Sept. 21, 2005
As most Clemson supporters know by now, Clemson’s football program is going to have a four-year contract with South Carolina for Saturday on Thanksgiving weekend starting in 2006. It might be useful for us to review some of the elements that transpired which led to this new arrangement.
The Atlantic Coast Conference voted at the May meeting that all conference schools would play on Thanksgiving weekend. Clemson is the only school that voted in the negative because of issues that related to family time, the Thanksgiving holiday as well as our students not being on campus at that time.
From a conference viewpoint, the ACC is requiring that its members play on Thanksgiving weekend for three basic reasons. The first pertains to student-athlete welfare. Although each school picked up an extra game with the 12-game schedule, the season did not expand.
The second reason has to do with Thursday night football, which is tied to our television contract. Preferred scheduling is to have an open date during the season in order to avoid playing on Thursday after playing on the previous Saturday, thus creating a short week for a team.
The other reason is a desire by the conference to have a uniform playing schedule leading up to the conference championship game. For instance, a team playing on Thanksgiving weekend before the conference championship could be disadvantaged if it were playing a team that did not play on Thanksgiving weekend and had two weeks preparation time.
For those three reasons, it was decided that all conference teams will be required to play on Thanksgiving weekend.
As a result, we have entered into a four-year contract to play South Carolina on Thanksgiving weekend. We have the option to play another team other than USC on that weekend, but it seems practical to play your rival on the last game of the season.
That is particularly important if your team is in the conference championship hunt because you want your conference status settled prior to that game. So, for practical reasons, it is preferable to play your natural rival the last week of the season.
I recognize that there are some great rivals like Texas-Oklahoma that play mid-season. However — at this juncture, with these circumstances and our history of playing South Carolina on the last game of the season — it now makes sense to play them on Thanksgiving weekend.
The purpose of the four-year contract is to get into it and determine how it is working. That will give us an opportunity to evaluate the situation. As is our practice at Clemson University, careful and diligent consideration was given to the issues involved in this decision. Please know how grateful we are for your support.
In Solid Orange,
Terry Don PhillipsClemson Athletics Director
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