Oklahoma and Texas’ future move to the SEC was the first domino, Pac-12's chaos ensued and now there are daily conversations among fans about what the future holds for Clemson and the ACC.
Nearly three weeks since UCLA and USC's impending move to the Big Ten was made public, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney spoke to the media on Tuesday, acknowledging the uncertainty that lies ahead in the college football landscape.
“I’m not concerned at all. I’m just like everybody else,” Swinney said. “I’m just kind of like, ‘Where are we going to be in two years or five years?’ I think most people know where college football is heading; it’s just a matter of when. Is it next week? Is it five years from now? Is it three years from now? I don’t really know, but I think most people that are really a part of this game can agree that ultimately there’s going to be a restructuring of college football.”
Even with an impending shake-up of college football, Swinney and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason shared similar mindsets on Tuesday, both saying, “People come to Clemson because it’s Clemson,” and that won’t change regardless of conference realignment.
While Swinney was adamant that changes are inevitable, he also said he is focused on preparing for the Tigers’ matchup with Georgia Tech in week one and won’t be spearheading any sort of conference-level change.
“Those decisions are not made by coaches,” Swinney said. “All that stuff is made by the presidents and commissioners, and there’s a lot of smart people out there. I do know this; I’m thankful that we got guys like Jim Clements and Graham (Neff). These are two very good leaders and good people that are incredibly plugged into all-things college football.”
Swinney’s sentiment toward the future of college football is common among fans, analysts and reporters. Change is coming, but for Clemson and the rest of the ACC, it may be a while before any groundbreaking changes occur.
The ACC is partnered with ESPN for TV rights until 2036, and that part of the deal is not even what makes a move to a different conference difficult for Clemson and the 13 other teams in the ACC.
As a part of the binding deal, a Grant-of-Rights agreement would force schools leaving the ACC before 2036 to pay an exit fee and their entire TV revenue to the ACC.
“There’s going to be a new governing structure at some point. I don’t think there’s any doubt of that,” Swinney said. “Where we are right now, we’ve kind of rounded second base, and there’s a line drive, and everybody’s holding halfway to see if it got through. Either (go) home or get back on second and go from there.”
With ACC media day starting on Wednesday, ACC commissioner Jim Phillips will likely remain coy and cautious when answering any questions about realignment.
As for Swinney and the Tigers, all eyes are on the 2022 season, and they'll let others decide who they play and in what conference.