Swinney says Clemson's schedule model will yield 'championship mix' opportunity

Tigers' coach says in new playoff system 'there's going to be a premium on beating people that count'

Dabo Swinney gives the team a last minute talk before the Georgia game

Photo by Mark Crammer

Dabo Swinney gives the team a last minute talk before the Georgia game

This year's Clemson schedule - with two FCS opponents balanced by two SEC powers - will not be the norm for the Tigers going forward, Dabo Swinney says.

The Tigers ended up with two in-state FCS teams - South Carolina State and The Citadel - this fall because of maneuvering associated with the ACC's temporary move to a nine-game conference schedule.

While the games are good for the state's economy, Swinney said Clemson's model going forward will be to play a top-tier team, like Georgia, Auburn or Notre Dame, a mid-major FBS opponent, and one in-state FCS opponent, in addition to the season-ending game against South Carolina.

Swinney believes such a schedule will give the Tigers ample opportunity to play their way into the national championship conversation within the new playoff structure, which will go into effect next year.

"There's going to be a premium on beating people that count," Swinney said. "Heck, you could schedule all the 'directional' schools and be 13-0 and stick your chest out, but we've got to go play people.

"I think playing eight conference games is a huge challenge. This conference is getting stronger and stronger by the day, and then you throw in the fact that we're always going to play South Carolina, and they're one of best teams in the country. If we can play another top-tier opponent, and then maybe a mid-level Division 1 opponent - I think that's a formula that works for us. And then typically, we play one against somebody from in the state."

Swinney believes the playoff door will be open to an ACC champion that takes care of its nonconference business.

"With the schedule that's presented at Clemson each year, we'll have an opportunity to be in that mix," he said. "If we're a 12-1 or 13-0 type team, winning a conference championship, there's no way we're not going to be on the national scene."

Swinney said he likes Clemson's commitment to playing one in-state FCS opponent each season.

"We do like playing one like that a year," he said. "We've got two this year, and that's not the norm for us. But I think it's great when you can play a team in-state, keep the money in the state, and help these programs that are helping a lot of students in this state, giving them opportunities. I think it's a real positive."

Saturday's game has been announced as Clemson's first pregame sellout ever against an FCS opponent. A crowd of more than 83,000 is expected for the 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

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Comments » 4

rsb8931#286014 writes:

I understand why we do what we do, but I have always thought and really think it today, we would be better off to mail these FCS teams a check and play Alabama instead. As a Clemson fan wouldn't you rather go see us beat Alabama this Saturday than beat SC St by 50 or 60 points? As far as SC goes, yes, the last 3 or 4 years they have been one of the better teams nationally, but historically they have been average at best, and generally speaking have been below average. This is very A-typical with them right now. And it won't last.

76Paw writes:

Your suggestion works great when you win, but you seem to ignore the possibility that you can lose too.

The odds of losing to an FCS school are nearly nil, to a mid level FBS school maybe 25% or less, but to a top level FBS school 50% or more, to BAMA definitely more than 50% chance to lose.

I think our formula of 1 top level FBS school, 1 mid level FBS school, 1 FCS in state school, and USuC is well balanced for getting national exposure, rankings, and inclusion in the playoff picture, as long as USuC continues to play at the level of the last few years. If they revert back to mid level or lower then maybe it needs rethinking.

Too many top level teams can knock you out of the discussion with more than 1 loss, while too many FCS teams kill your strength of schedule. Balance is the key.

Don't get me wrong, I love playing against the top teams, and would much prefer that we eliminate everything except those for my viewing pleasure, but it would make it very difficult to stay in the national picture. Teams with 50/50 won/loss records don't get much press even if they do play the best schedule.

lhaselden writes:

in response to 76Paw:

Your suggestion works great when you win, but you seem to ignore the possibility that you can lose too.

The odds of losing to an FCS school are nearly nil, to a mid level FBS school maybe 25% or less, but to a top level FBS school 50% or more, to BAMA definitely more than 50% chance to lose.

I think our formula of 1 top level FBS school, 1 mid level FBS school, 1 FCS in state school, and USuC is well balanced for getting national exposure, rankings, and inclusion in the playoff picture, as long as USuC continues to play at the level of the last few years. If they revert back to mid level or lower then maybe it needs rethinking.

Too many top level teams can knock you out of the discussion with more than 1 loss, while too many FCS teams kill your strength of schedule. Balance is the key.

Don't get me wrong, I love playing against the top teams, and would much prefer that we eliminate everything except those for my viewing pleasure, but it would make it very difficult to stay in the national picture. Teams with 50/50 won/loss records don't get much press even if they do play the best schedule.

I think how strong you schedule out of conference depends on the strenght of your conference schedule playing FSU, Louisville and Ga Tech every year and USC is 4 tough games... If we NCState rebounds like I think they will then with USC that is 6 tough games. I think to be in the conversation to be in the 4 team playoff you will have to be undefeated or win your conference and beat 4 or 5 top 25 teams. 1 loss and no top 25 wins will not make the grade.

JDS87 writes:

Glad to read this from Swinney, unlike the admirable Ole Ball Sack who has scheduled cakewalks annually before their game with us. Couldn't be a factor in their recent success against us could it?!

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