Nell Redmond/Associated Press
Clemson and Notre Dame both had last weekend off heading into Saturday’s ACC Championship Game, but commissioner John Swofford told ESPN’s Andrea Adelson that a complaint about the scheduling from SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey “rings pretty hollow.”
On Saturday, Sankey criticized scheduling in the Big Ten and Pac-12, where teams won’t play eight games this season, and the Dec. 12 cancellations in the ACC, noting that Florida will have played for eight consecutive weeks at the end of the championship game.
Per Adelson, Clemson did not want to travel to Florida last weekend, so the ACC decided it wouldn’t make Notre Dame play and would instead determine the title game participants based on a nine-game schedule.
Sankey’s comment was rooted in a desire for a second team from his conference to make the four-team College Football Playoff. In the CFP rankings, Alabama is ranked No. 1, followed by Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State.
“Playing games matters,” Sankey said. “The playoff selection committee has said that. We have a chance to demonstrate the excellent football in the Southeastern Conference today. I really didn’t have any pushback from our teams. They’re ready to play and have these opportunities. I think playing games matters.”
Though a nine-game schedule determined who would play in the ACC title game, Clemson and Notre Dame did each play 10 games, the same amount as the SEC Championship teams, Alabama and Florida, according to Adelson. The ACC has played more games than any other league in the NCAA, completing 85 of 96 scheduled contests.
“We look at our league,” Swofford said. “We don’t worry a whole lot about other leagues. We look at what we think is appropriate and right for the ACC. That’s not even a defense; that’s simply an explanation because the two teams playing in our championship game don’t need defending in any way shape or form.”