Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey this month has taken a couple of not-so-veiled shots at other leagues in college football, most overtly the Atlantic Coast Conference's decision earlier this month to rearrange its schedule to keep Clemson and Notre Dame with an equal number of games played.
The undefeated and second-ranked Irish (10-0) and fourth-ranked Clemson (9-1), per the College Football Playoff Rankings, both got this weekend off from action to keep the two teams on relatively level ground. The ACC then shuffled other contests, sending Duke to Florida State and Wake Forest to Louisville, as well as preserving the Commonwealth Cup battle between Virginia and Virginia Tech.
It's worth nothing, at this point, that no SEC team has played more than 10 games. So the Irish and the Tigers aren't exactly condensing a schedule to potentially short-change the SEC.
And Clemson coach Dabo Swinney emphasized that point Sunday night on an ACC Championship game Zoom with reporters – while also getting in a shot at presumed Big Ten playoff-hopeful Ohio State. Clemson and Notre Dame meet Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., (4 p.m., ABC) for the ACC title.
“Yeah I mean you know we got, if the ACC was trying to really protect Clemson and Notre Dame, why would we even play the game this week,” Swinney asked on the call. “If six wins can get you in the playoffs shouldn't 9 get you there? Shouldn't 10 get you there? So if the ACC was really trying to protect Clemson and Notre Dame, we wouldn't even play this game.
“That's not what we're about. We want to crown a worthy champion. It's going to be an awesome game.”
The SEC did play almost a full slate this weekend, and the league likely lost one squad from CFP contention. Florida, which previously had just one loss and had secured the SEC Eastern Division title last weekend, was stunned at home by defending CFP champion LSU.
The setback decimated the Gators' playoff chances, even if they could knock off Alabama this week in the SEC Championship.
Swinney said he and his team had wanted to play as scheduled this past weekend – and got yet one more shot in at Florida State, which cancelled its game against the Tigers last month just hours prior to kickoff.
“I would have loved to have played this past weekend. I had no problem with that. I didn't make that decision,” Swinney said. “We wanted to play when we were down in Tallahassee (Florida last month). We were about to get on a bus and go play. Things happen. Just like it has all over the place.”
Swinney emphasized his Clemson squad has embraced the rematch with Notre Dame, which defeated the Tigers, 47-40, Nov. 7, in South Bend, Indiana, in double-overtime, for the ACC crown.
“They made this decision. We've played 10 games. Notre Dame's played 10 games,” Swinney said. “We're excited to go play a championship. Crown a worthy champion of this league and go from there.
“I think if the league was trying to protect that, we wouldn't even go play the game to be honest with you. But that's not what Notre Dame wants. That's not what we want. We want to go play the game. So, there you go.”