CLEMSON - Same nicknames, similar universities, close in geography and a penchant for putting on a good football matchup.
Clemson and Auburn made sense as non-conference dance partners from 2010-12, and the song starts over with another home-and-home series in 2016-17.
"We're really happy to get Auburn. It's going to be a great game," Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said Wednesday. "It's relatively close between both schools, so the fan bases can travel back and forth."
The Tigers and Tigers will clash in Auburn on Sept. 3, 2016, and in Clemson on Sept. 9, 2017. The scheduling fit Clemson's needs as far as ensuring seven home games at Death Valley in each year, with major-conference opponents slated to visit Clemson on Oct. 3, 2015, (Notre Dame), Sept. 9, 2017, (Auburn) and the final weekend of 2014, 2016 and 2018 (South Carolina.)
Radakovich said Wednesday that Clemson and Auburn discussed a rematch in the 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, reprising their 2012 showdown at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta - which Clemson won 26-19.
However, that would have meant back-to-back CFA Kickoff appearances for Auburn, which opens there with Louisville in 2015.
"Playing a home and home in 2016 and '17, and leaving '18 and '19 available for another home-and-home series, really worked out best for us," Radakovich said.
In 2010, Auburn beat Clemson at home 27-24 in overtime en route to a national title. Clemson exacted revenge in 2011 with a 38-24 home victory.
Clemson, 13-34-2 all-time against Auburn, has a two-game winning streak in the series.
Auburn holds a 20-4 advantage in the series at home in Jordan-Hare Stadium, and a 10-6-1 edge at Memorial Stadium.
Auburn is the defending SEC champion, losing to Florida State in the 2014 BCS National Championship game. Clemson is 22-4 the past two years and the reigning Orange Bowl champion.
Twenty-six opponents have visited Clemson at least three times and only two have a winning record: Auburn (10-6-1) and Florida State (8-5.) The Tigers host both in 2017, as they did in 2011, beating both during its ACC Championship season.
Radakovich revealed Clemson will be visiting Notre Dame in 2020. Its only previous trip to South Bend was a 16-10 victory in 1979.
A neutral-site, made-for-TV assignment in 2018 is "not necessarily" off the table, Radakovich said. However, Clemson would then need to coax a non-conference opponent to arrange a home-and-home series in 2019 and 2021, sandwiching the Tigers' Notre Dame visit.
"We've been approached by Orlando, Charlotte, Nashville, obviously Atlanta, and there's been some talk about some others," Radakovich said of prospective neutral sites. "But I think Atlanta probably does make the most sense, given the geography. Charlotte certainly is on the table as well if they get more into this type of a game."
Sept. 3, 2016, figures to be a banner day in college football non-conference affairs. Besides Clemson-Auburn, scheduled matchups include Alabama-USC, LSU-Wisconsin, UCLA-Texas A&M, Notre Dame-Texas and Arizona-BYU.
The Tigers' non-conference opponents are now locked in for the next four years.
Delay of game
Captaining much of the upcoming construction projects around Clemson's athletic campus, Radakovich learned a valuable lesson on the first wave of facility upgrades, involving Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
"Baseball renovations are probably a sore subject with me right now, because there should be activity there, but there's not," Radakovich said.
He explained an architect for the baseball team's new player development club had been on board for a year, before a newly hired contractor informed the school actual costs were not in line with the original estimates.
After sorting out the snafu, Radakovich expects baseball renovations to resume in mid-April, though not all the duties will be completed by the 2015 season opener in February.
"That project is OK. We're still able to play baseball even with this little hiccup," Radakovich said. "But some of the other projects we're doing, we may be facing tighter time schedules."
Upcoming projects include the reconstruction of Littlejohn Coliseum, home of the Clemson men's and women's basketball teams; a new football operations center; renovated suites overlooking Death Valley; and other upgrades to the WestZone Center inside Memorial Stadium.
Change slows down
The idea of the Power 5 leagues (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12) merging into super conferences seems to be void for now, with the College Football Playoff about to begin a 12-year deal.
"To be real honest, we haven't given that a lot of thought, because the conferences in their current format are very comfortable with where they are," said Radakovich, a Playoff selection committee member who serves on multiple national AD boards. "I have not heard in any outlet anywhere that super-conferences are on the horizon."
Aug. 30 at Georgia
Sept. 6 vs. South Carolina State
Nov. 22 vs. Georgia State
Nov. 29 vs. South Carolina
Sept. 12 vs. Appalachian State
Oct. 3 vs. Notre Dame
Nov. 28 at South Carolina
TBD vs. Wofford
Sept. 3 at Auburn
Sept. 10 vs. Troy
Nov. 26 vs. South Carolina
TBD vs. South Carolina State
Sept. 2 vs. Kent State
Sept. 9 vs. Auburn
Nov. 25 at South Carolina
TBD vs. The Citadel
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