Feb. 1, 2005
Two separate cases regarding football scheduling arose recently that I thought might be worth reviewing this week.
The first concerns ESPN approaching us about the possibility of playing the Clemson-South Carolina game on Thanksgiving night. It was my understanding that South Carolina had agreed to play the game on that night, although I never spoke with South Carolina.
It would have been a primetime, national broadcast with ESPN Gameday in attendance. ESPN wanted to try the game for two years on an experimental basis. We declined simply because — as I have realized in the time since I have been here — it is something our people do not want.
On the other side of the issue, the primetime window on Thanksgiving night would have been a tremendous television window. We know and ESPN recognizes that the rivalry between South Carolina and Clemson is very intense. By showcasing the game, the rivalry over time would have taken on national stature.
However, based on what our people want, there was no reason to pursue it.
In another case, ABC contacted us this year about moving the Clemson-Texas A&M game to Sunday on Labor Day weekend. While the Thanksgiving suggestion could not seriously be considered, moving the Texas A&M game to Sunday was carefully considered. We were mindful of the pluses and minuses.
The pluses were very significant. One was the hundred percent coverage of the nation — which is rare in game coverage today — for Clemson University. Beyond that, it gave us an opportunity to reduce the number of night games we believe that we may have this season. Texas A&M would have been one of those games. Based on conversations to date, I think we can count on that game being at night.
Because we have such a great schedule at home with Miami and FSU coming here, those games also are vulnerable to being picked up as night games. We strongly considered moving the A&M game because: one, outstanding coverage; two, it would have strengthened our position to negotiate out of some night games. We are adverse to night games and try to avoid them. This was a way to minimize our vulnerability to the networks picking up those games in a night slot.
Balancing against that is the precedent of playing on Sunday and harming the goodwill with churches here and throughout the state where people attend Sunday services. That was the more important factor in not taking the game to Sunday. In light of that decision, we will do our best to lobby against night games, but we all need to recognize our vulnerability this season.
Another important thing to know is that there would not have been one more dollar to the Athletic Department from having the game on Sunday. Our revenue distribution is preset from what we receive from the conference contract. Whether we like it or not, the conference contract controls when we may have to play our games, e.g. night games, Thursday, etc.
So, night games are always a possibility. You work hard to minimize Thursday night games and hopefully play more on the road than at home, which we have been fairly successful in accomplishing. But, please know we are all part and parcel of the conference contract.
Occasionally I hear people say, “To heck with the conference, do your own thing.”
The truth is you can’t. If we were dependent to support this total sports program on just ticket sales and contributions, we could not support the program. We simply could not have a total sports program. We must depend upon revenue distribution we get from the Atlantic Coast Conference. And, with the good there is also some bad.
Terry Don Phillips
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