MOUNT PLEASANT — Clemson fans who formed an orange-tinted line to get football coach Dabo Swinney’s autograph aboard the Yorktown on Thursday night are mostly concerned with next season.
Can the Tigers build on last year’s 11-2 record and Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over LSU? How about that opener against Georgia? And can Clemson snap its four-game skid against rival South Carolina?
But Tigers’ athletic director Dan Radakovich is paid to take the long view, and he said this week’s move by the ACC to lock up the media rights for the league’s 15 current and future members — effectively blocking any of those schools from leaving the ACC — is “a great thing for Clemson.”
“And if it’s good for Clemson and the ACC, it’s good for college football,” Radakovich said before the Charleston County Clemson Club’s “Prowl and Growl” event on the Yorktown, attended by a sellout crowd of about 550 fans. “It really solidifies the league and helps us take a few steps forward to have some real substantial discussions about an ACC network, an ACC channel.
“We couldn’t do one without the other, so having our presidents sign off on this is a great thing.”
The “grant of media rights” agreement announced by the ACC on Monday means that the league owns the television rights for its members through 2026-27, quelling rumors of Florida State and/or Clemson heading to the Big 12, or North Carolina and Virginia to the Big Ten.
Radakovich said those possibilities were always overstated.
“I think Clemson was there the whole time,” he said. “Clemson always has been very solid within the ACC. It’s home to us and the right place for us to be. Now that we are all togther and in lockstep, it’s great for the conference.”
Swinney said it clears the way for ACC football to focus on improving its standing as the College Football Playoff looms in 2014.
“Hopefully, it will cut back on some of the chit-chat that seems to never go away in this unsettled college football world we live in,” he said. “It brings a lot of stability, and it’s a great league. It’s a firm statement from everybody that we are here to stay, and let’s make this the premier league in the country.”
For basketball coach Brad Brownell, the new ACC will mean adding Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame and national champion Louisville to a league that’s already one of the nation’s best.
“We should be sitting there with the league getting eight or nine teams in the NCAA tournament,” Brownell said. “But night in and night out, the wars in the league are going to be difficult. January and February are going to be some tough basketball.”
Swinney and Brownell signed autographs for a long line of fans, and Swinney said he’s noticed a transformation among orange faithful in recent years.
“It’s fun to see our fan base change a little bit in the last four years,” said Swinney, whose teams have won 21 games the last two seasons. “Our players deserve the credit for that. They’ve gotten it done on the field and have represented Clemson the way the fans want it to be represented. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and excitement as we go around the state, but expectations are always high at Clemson. That’s what I love about Clemson nation.”
• A torn ACL suffered by tight end Sam Cooper during spring practice will mean more responsibility for Stanton Seckinger, a rising sophomore from Porter-Gaud. “He just became head of the food chain at that position,” Swinney said of the 6-4, 200-pounder. “It’s tough to lose Sam Cooper, a crafty old veteran and a 255-pound guy who brought a lot of power to the position. Now we have to ramp up Stanton’s development. We need him to come back at about 230 pounds, and I think he can do that between now and August. He’s got a very bright future.”
• The Berkeley County Clemson Club will hold its meeting at 6 p.m. today at the Fraternal Order of Police in Moncks Corner. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris will speak. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from Hazel Modica (843-709-0211) or Paige Austell (843-345-8550).