Clemson Football will make its annual trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Media Days, officially known as the “ACC Football Kickoff”.
The media days start on Tuesday, July 25th, and continue through Thursday, July 27th. Clemson will meet with the media on the last day.
A total of 42 student-athletes will meet with the media during the event. Quarterback Cade Klubnik, defensive tackle Tyler Davis and center Will Putnam will accompany Dabo Swinney to the meeting.
Considering the general status of the ACC and its member institutions, it won’t be surprising if the event is awkward.
Ever since the SEC and Big Ten added prime programs from the Big 12 and Pac-12 respectively, the members of the ACC have become acutely aware of the gap in television money generated per school between them and the members of the Big Two.
It has also become clear that the gap will widen significantly before the ACC’s Grant of Rights expires in 2036. This has led to multiple schools investigating ways to stay competitive. One of the ways is leaving the conference, and they have been trying to determine how feasible that will be.
In May we learned the names of seven schools had been working to find solutions to the revenue gap, including ways to break the GOR. Those schools, which included Clemson, were dubbed “The Magnificent Seven”.
For the first time since then, all the schools in the conference will be meeting with the press, and there will be several questions about the future of each institution. Most observers agree that compromises to increase revenue for some schools will only be a short-term fix.
Now news has broken that the hazing scandal at Northwestern has extended its reach to ACC commissioner Jim Phillips, who was the athletic director for the Wildcats from 2008 to 2021.
A lawsuit has been brought by an unnamed football player who alleges that school leadership was complicit with abuse by not regulating the environment in which the hazing occurred. Presumably, Phillips was the AC at the time the hazing in this lawsuit is alleged to have occurred.
Phillips has been a man in-between opinions. Most observers don’t feel he is responsible for the current state of the league. That finger is often pointed at former commissioner John Swofford, who initiated the current television contract and the GOR before his retirement.
On the other hand, Phillips also hasn’t been able to accomplish much to improve the situation either, which might be an impossible task. Modest plans to increase revenue for some schools based on achievement were lauded by the league this spring, but most observers seem to think that was simply a Band-Aid.
So next week the ACC will have a big media kickoff to the 2023 football season where half of the league wants to leave, the other half doesn’t want to be abandoned, and the commissioner is being sued for complicity in hazing abuse. How could this go wrong?
Clemson Football will meet the press on the last day of ACC Kickoff
Most coaches will likely do their best to avoid any comments that could draw unwanted attention, and they will likely advise their student-athletes to do the same. Phillips himself will likely decline to comment on the lawsuit while it is unresolved.
You never know when someone might let their lips loosen. A few years ago former North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora spoke his mind on concussions and CTE, creating a bit of a stir. Just last week Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables had choice words for both Mario Cristobal and Deion Sanders at Big 12 media days.
Will a coach from the Magnificent Seven air frustrations with revenue distribution? Will one of the others take a shot at schools investigating how to break a contract with the league? Will Phillips stumble as he is grilled about lawsuits, television revenue, and the league’s shaky future?
It could be very interesting, or very boring. The only thing we know for certain is that it will be awkward.