Dabo Swinney said Thursday that he’d be thrilled to see the Big Ten and Pac-12 get back on the field sooner rather than later, an option that seems to have some traction in recent days, but the Clemson coach doesn’t want to see the College Football Playoff wait for those leagues to play catch-up.
The Pac-12 announced a new testing partnership Thursday, with commissioner Larry Scott saying that a planning group will look at numerous models for restarting football, including before the current Jan. 1 moratorium for athletics. Earlier this week, there were rumblings of a possible November start for the Big Ten after President Donald Trump intervened and offered assistance with testing.
Swinney said that’s all good progress — “I’d love for them to play, and testing is a great opportunity for everyone, for sure,” he said — but he suggested that any plans to alter the current playoff model to account for a late start by some conferences would be a tough sell.
“We’re ready to roll,” Swinney said. “That would be something I wouldn’t be in favor for. It’d be hard to start in November and then push the season into February.”
Clemson is set to open its 11-game season Sept. 12 against Wake Forest.
During a virtual news conference Thursday, Scott said he has been in regular communication with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren in hopes of aligning a football restart that might include some version of postseason play.
“It would be awesome to have some of the traditional postseason opportunities the Pac-12 and Big Ten have enjoyed with each other,” Scott said.
Playoff chairman Bill Hancock said earlier this week that there has been no discussion about potential playoff games in the spring, and he said he would not be in favor of awarding split championships.
A timeline that would unify a playoff including all Power 5 leagues remains a long shot, even if the Big Ten and Pac-12 were to get a jump start on the season later this fall.
Stanford coach David Shaw echoed the sentiment that the leagues that shut down shouldn’t go without a chance to win a title.
“It has to be factored in that these two conferences in particular are major conferences and always deserve an opportunity to win a national championship when they play,” Shaw said. “We’ve all bought in to the CFP. If by the end of the winter, if there’s someone who has merit, they deserve recognition.”