Clemson Football: ACC Kickoff will be awkward…again

At ACC Kickoff 2023, the league was split down the middle with the Magnificent 7. Four of those seven realigned with the conference to admit new members. Clemson Football, FSU, and UNC could be on an island at ACC Kickoff 2024.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney speaks at a breakout session during the ACC Kickoff Media Days event in downtown Charlotte, N.C. Thursday, July 27, 2023.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney speaks at a breakout session during the ACC Kickoff Media Days event in downtown Charlotte, N.C. Thursday, July 27, 2023. / Ken Ruinard / USA Today Network / USA

We are about two weeks away from the 2024 ACC Kickoff. With the new additions of California, SMU, and Stanford, the event will be held over four days, starting July 22.

The event will be hosted by the Hilton Charlotte Uptown in Charlotte, North Carolina. The ACC Network will provide live coverage of all 17 teams.

As they did last season, Clemson Football will be featured on the final day, July 25th.

Last summer, I wrote that the ACC Kickoff would be awkward for many participants. At that time, we had the Magnificent 7: Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. They were the seven ACC members rumored to be serious about finding ways out of the Grant of Rights. Louisville was rumored to be an eighth school joining them.

Eight schools constituted over half the league’s full members at the time. Since then, two big things have happened.

Two schools have filed lawsuits against the ACC. Florida State was first, followed by Clemson.

The addition of the three new schools was approved by 12 of the 15 voting members. The reason most cited by observers for adding the new schools was to preserve the number of members in the conference. ESPN’s contract with the ACC says they could renegotiate rates if membership dropped below a certain level. The addition of Cal, SMU, and Stanford would keep membership above that level even if Clemson and Florida State left.

Miami, NC State, Virginia, and Virginia Tech were members of the Magnificent 7 who voted for the additions. Louisville did as well. It would seem the awkwardness isn’t as pressing this year for those schools since they fell back in line with the ‘best interests of the league’.

For Clemson and Florida State, the awkwardness will likely be turned up a notch, but it is hard to tell how much of it will be public.

North Carolina is that program in between. They sided with Clemson and FSU against adding new members, but they have not taken any legal action against the conference.

Coaches like Dabo Swinney and Mike Norvell are experienced enough to know how to handle the questions about the lawsuits with good old-fashioned avoidance and coach-speak, but the intensity of the questions will likely increase this summer. I don’t think anyone will be walking on eggshells this year.

If the recent rumors of something big happening before mid-August turn out to be true, this could be the last time Clemson and/or Florida State appear at ACC Kickoff. There will likely be some pointed questions for both the coaches and players in attendance. This event could get very uncomfortable.