CLEMSON – The football team might be idle for the next week, but Clemson’s fans might have a say in where the Tigers end up during bowl season, according to athletic director Dan Radakovich.
Radakovich tweeted twice Monday night calling on fan support, indicating “Orange Bowl reps told me their concern with Clemson is ticket sales.” Multiple national media outlets are projecting No. 13 Clemson to meet No. 4 Alabama in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3 at Sun Life Stadium in south Florida.
“In my conversations with Orange Bowl officials on Sunday afternoon, their primary concerns about Clemson center on ticket sales and team ranking,” Radakovich wrote in an open letter to Clemson fans and IPTAY boosters Monday. “While the team won 10 games and remains ranked among the top in the nation, the only thing we can control now are ticket sales. It is critical that we support our team by letting the Orange Bowl know our fans are interested in attending the game and buying tickets.”
Ticket prices for the Orange Bowl range from $75 to $250, but it is not so much actual purchases as the buzz Radakovich seeks in ensuring Clemson remains attractive to the BCS bowl association partnered with the ACC. The Tigers would make a natural fit to replace No. 1 Florida State in the Orange Bowl should the Seminoles qualify for the BCS National Championship.
The Tigers lost to West Virginia 70-33 two years ago in the Orange Bowl, and are coming off their fifth straight loss to South Carolina, finishing the 2013 regular season 10-2.
“Regardless of our postseason destination, we cannot emphasize enough the need for our fans to utilize our athletic ticket office to purchase tickets,” Radakovich wrote. “The last time we sold at least 10,000 tickets through the athletic ticket office for a bowl game was the 2009 Gator Bowl against Nebraska. With more than 20,000 Clemson fans at each of our last three bowl games, there is no question that our fans have purchased bowl tickets through third parties and the secondary marketplace, but we need your help in purchasing tickets through the athletic ticket office. This make a huge statement with the bowls and their committees.”
Two Orange Bowl representatives have told The Post and Courier they are not obligated to select an at-large ACC team like Clemson, but they prefer to honor their partnership with the league.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney unequivocally prefers a BCS bid against a top-flight opponent to a non-BCS bowl as a heavy favorite.
“We absolutely want to be in the BCS. That’s a no-brainer. That’s not even a question,” Swinney said Sunday. “We’re still one of the best teams in the country. That’s a fact. We’ve been one of the most consistent teams in the country. … “We’d love to be in the BCS, and we think we deserve to be.”
An invitation to a BCS bowl is worth $17 million to Clemson University. The ACC’s top non-BCS bowl, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, pays $2.9 million to ACC participants.
“To show our desire to play in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl, I ask each of you to utilize at least one of the following methods to reach the selection committee and bowl staff,” Radakovich wrote. “E-mail the Orange Bowl at MakeItOrange@orangebowl.org; utilize social media by mentioning @OrangeBowl or using #ClemsonOrange on Twitter, and visit facebook.com/OrangeBowl.
“Combining the power of the Clemson brand, as well as the muscle of electronic media, all of us can help make an influential statement about Clemson.”