The times are a-changin’ in the ACC and college football as a whole, and Dabo Swinney is just fine with that.
Starting this season, Syracuse, in Clemson’s division, and Pittsburgh join the conference.
Next year, FBS-independent Notre Dame, fresh off a trip to the BCS title game, begins a rotation of five games a season with the ACC – something that Swinney certainly isn’t writing off for their lack of a full commitment.
“I think that Notre Dame has a great brand,” he said. “For them to be full fledged members in all of the other sports is a really good thing. For them to commit five games to football is great. It gives everybody a very quality, non conference game, if you will, that they can schedule.
“I'm really excited about it.”
The Fighting Irish come to Death Valley in 2015 for the first matchup with Clemson since 1979. A return trip to South Bend, Indiana hasn’t been scheduled, but it’s supposed happen in a three-year period – 2016 is booked-up – so likely 2017.
“You got a chance to play a great traditional program like Notre Dame,” Swinney said. “Every few years they're here or you're going up there. I think that's great for your overall schedule and competitiveness and all that kind of stuff and the fan bases.
“I personally never have coached or played against Notre Dame. So it's something that I'm certainly looking forward to.”
With the selection committee still being hashed out, one notable aspect of the upcoming four-team playoff in 2014 is an increased weight of strength of schedule, which the Irish should add every couple years.
Last week, Cowboys Stadium was selected as the championship site for the inaugural season, with Pasadena’s Rose and New Orleans’ Sugar Bowl the semifinal spots.
The small increase from two to four teams involved in the championship picture is just right according to Swinney, who's going into his fifth full season as a head coach.
“People talk about playoffs and all that stuff,” said Swinney, “and listen. First of all, in college football we have a playoff every week – every week is a playoff. For us, we've got to win our division, and then you've got to go win a championship game, and now you've got to go win, if you're fortunate to get in that four, you've got to go win in those four games. You've got to win that game and then you've got to win another game.
“I think it's the best of both worlds because you have advocates for different things and strong opinions on both sides. I really think it's a good compromise and solution that really can accomplish what everybody's after.”
For the fans, the excitement increases, while for the coaches, the pressure is turned up.
“There's going to be a lot of anticipation,” he said, “and just taking what was already a great game, great product and it's made even better.
“It's certainly a challenge for everybody.”