Good news: Fall camp starts next week, but it will look a little different

by - Senior Writer -
Tyler Davis works out at fall camp last August.
Tyler Davis works out at fall camp last August.

A lot of good news has arrived on the scene this week, and even more good news popped up early Friday afternoon when we were told that August camp will start next Thursday. However, it will look a little different.

The ACC announced earlier this week that it would play a 10-game conference schedule, mixing and matching the teams in the Coastal and Atlantic Divisions, plus a non-conference game. For the first time in a long while, it made it seem like some sort of season might be a reality.

There are still roadblocks because all of this is evolving at its own pace. We go months wondering if a season will happen and then in the space of week a lot of news comes down the pipe to give us hope.

The coaching staff was thrown a curve, I am sure. The coaches spent the summer preparing for the opener at Georgia Tech and an early-season clash against Louisville. Now Louisville is off the schedule unless the two teams meet in the ACC Championship Game.

Georgia Tech is still a possibility for the opener or early in the season, and I am sure if you asked the coaches their opinion they would vote for the Yellow Jackets in the opener. But now there is a lot of working starting on opponents no one really expected to see like Pitt and Virginia Tech and Miami.

Also, what happens with Notre Dame? If you’re the ACC and you want your two strongest teams (at least what we think of them right now) butting heads in Charlotte, it might make sense to schedule the Tigers’ game against the Irish in South Bend early in the season. That gives the loser the chance to make up ground the rest of the season and set up a rematch. Could we see a primetime matchup between Clemson and Notre Dame early? It remains to be seen, but the thought is intriguing.

We are still waiting on word on several things. We know Clemson’s opponents for the season in conference, but with the SEC’s decision to play conference-only games, it knocked out the rivalry game against the Gamecocks. That means Clemson must reach out and try to find a non-conference opponent that is willing to play in Clemson. That might not be as easy as it sounds, even though teams from the Big 12 are a possibility.

Also, what happens to next year’s rivalry game? It’s scheduled to be played in Columbia, but would the programs consider moving the game to Clemson next season since this year’s tilt was cancelled? It actually would make sense from a scheduling standpoint – Clemson tries to schedule two major non-conference opponents each season, with one being South Carolina, and plays away at the second opponent when it hosts South Carolina and plays host to the second opponent when it plays at South Carolina.

Next season, the Tigers are scheduled to start the season in Charlotte against Georgia, so moving the rivalry game back to Clemson wouldn’t be that big of a deal from a Clemson standpoint. South Carolina is scheduled to play in at East Carolina next season as the second part of a home-and-home with the Pirates. However, this year’s game was lost because of the SEC decision, and with home games scheduled against Eastern Illinois and Troy already scheduled, the Gamecocks could move the ECU game back to Columbia if they play at Clemson.

Like we have said, there is a lot of work to be done.

OK, now back to the good news. Despite the delay in starting the season, Clemson’s fall camp is still scheduled to start next week. The big weigh-in will happen on Wednesday and practice will start on Thursday. That’s good news for those of us that make a living covering college athletics because football obviously drives the bus when it comes to coverage.

It will probably look a little different, however. Clemson has done a fantastic job of testing players and staff and coaches and insulating them from the rest of the community, so it stands to reason that the media (at least for the first part of camp) won’t be allowed to watch practice from the sidelines or conduct in-person interviews as it stands currently. That isn’t optimal, but if it means we can have a season, then I am all for it. We will still provide great coverage (with the school’s help) and press on towards the season.

Stay safe everyone.

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