ACC releases 2013 schedule

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A few months ahead of embarking on a season that will include two new members in its conference, the ACC has released its full schedule for the 2013 season.

One of the highlights of the schedule release was the confirmation that Pittsburgh, which will be moving on from the Big East July 1, will play its first game as an ACC member on Labor Day against defending conference champion Florida State.  The Panthers will host the Orange Bowl-winning Seminoles in a primetime matchup at Heinz Field the first Monday in September.

Syracuse, which is joining Pitt as a former Big East member, will play its first ACC game against Clemson Oct. 5.

Conference members will play seven nationally-televised non-Saturday games this season — five on Thursdays, two on Fridays.  The former games consist of North Carolina traveling to South Carolina (Aug. 29) for the first Thursday night game of the year on ESPN; NC State hosting Clemson on Thursday night (Sept. 19); Virginia Tech making the trek down to Georgia Tech (Sept. 26); Miami at North Carolina (Oct. 17); and Georgia Tech at Clemson (Nov. 14).  The latter games will feature Boston College hosting Wake Forest (Sept. 6) and Miami traveling to Pittsburgh the day after Thanksgiving.

The two Thursday night games for Clemson marks the first time that’s happened for the Tigers since the 2002 season.  It’s also the first time in 11 years that the program has played a home Thursday night game, which had caused a bit of angst ahead of the release.

“Having a Thursday night, nationally televised home football game on ESPN will be a tremendous positive for the university,” said athletic director Dan Radakovich in a statement. “As the only football game on television that night, we will have an opportunity to showcase our football and athletics program as well as our university community.

“All of us within the Department of Athletics understand the complexities of playing host to a Thursday night game and the challenges it presents for many on campus, including professors with afternoon classes.  We will work with President Jim Barker, university administrators and the appointed team to make the event a wonderful example of what Clemson University can do.”

The release labels the overall conference slate as “ambitious” as “members are playing 11 games against non-conference opponents that finished the 2012 football season ranked in the nation’s Top 25, nine games with non-conference teams ranked in the final AP Top Ten, including contests against each of the top four teams in the USA Today’s final poll.” The release went on to note that no other BCS automatic qualifier conferences will play more than eight non-conference games against 2012 Top 25 foes and no more than four games against 2012 Top 10 non-conference opponents.

“The 2013 ACC Football schedule showcases some tremendous matchups this year as our league is arguably playing the toughest nonconference schedule in the country,” a statement from ACC commissioner John Swofford read. “This is an exciting year as we look forward to welcoming Pitt and Syracuse into the ACC. Both teams are opening league play at home, with Florida State at Pitt on Labor Day Monday Night and in its first ACC game, Clemson at Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.”

Below the jump are the complete schedules — conference and non-conference — for the 14 members of the ACC.

ACC Schedule 1

ACC Schedule 2

ACC Schedule 3

ACC Schedule 4

Florida adds South Alabama to 2020 schedule

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Florida may not be able to beat Alabama, so they’ll do their best to make sure they take care of South Alabama in 2020. The Gators and Jaguars added a future non-conference game to the 2020 schedule, with Florida paying South Alabama a reported $1.2 million for the game in Gainesville.

The two schools will meet for the first time on September 19, 2020 at Florida. The game will be played in Week 3, likely following an SEC game on Florida’s schedule. Florida is scheduled to open the season at home against FCS opponent Eastern Washington and has an opening likely to be filled by a conference game in Week 2 of the schedule. Florida now has just one non-conference scheduling vacancy to fill before 2021, with one spot available in 2019 (Florida opens in Orlando against Miami and has Florida State at the end of the year).

As a member of the SEC, Florida is required to play one power conference opponent each season. Obviously, South Alabama doesn’t satisfy that requirement, but the Gators play ACC rival Florida State on an annual basis so the scheduling requirement is fulfilled any time the Seminoles are tacked on the schedule. Florida will open the 2017 season against Michigan as well.

South Alabama has filled up the bulk of their non-conference slots through the 2022 season with a good dose of power conference opponents. South Alabama will play Ole Miss and Oklahoma State this year, Oklahoma State in 2018, and has future games lined up against Nebraska, Tennessee, and UCLA. South Alabama has just one vacancy to fill before the 2023 season, with one spot in 2021 available.

John Swofford turns down volume on Notre Dame to ACC talk

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If there are any serious conversations behind closed doors between the ACC and Notre Dame about potential football membership, ACC commissioner John Swofford is not showing his cards. In a radio interview Friday morning, Swofford was asked about the rumor the conference and the Fighting Irish have had discussions, to which Swofford avoided any controversy.

Swofford said the ACC and Notre Dame have not had any such discussions about Notre Dame joining the conference in football to complete its membership in the conference, but he also didn’t slam the door shut on the potential option down the line.

Earlier this month the rumor mill got turning in wild fashion after a radio interview saw FOX Sports broadcaster Tim Brando say “conversations have taken place” about the ACC adding Notre Dame as a full member. That comment alone got the gears working on some exaggerated headlines across the Internet, some going so far as to suggest the Irish were on the verge of joining the ACC and abandoning their football independence once and for all. As I suggested at the time, there is absolutely reason to believe Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has had at least some degree of conversation with the ACC about the possibility, because a good AD would at least test the water on any and all potential scenarios should the time come the university approaches its football program differently.

The latest edition of the Notre Dame to ACC rumors followed the scheduling announcement from the ACC and Notre Dame for future game sin the ACC schedule rotation with the Irish through 2037.

Swofford did drop an interesting, although completely unsurprising, nugget of information as well when he mentioned the ACC would explore adding a 16th team to the fold if Notre Dame could be added in football. That alone will be enough to keep fans of certain programs interested in the ACC’s future, although they will all have to wait for a while in all likelihood, as no changes would be expected until current media rights deals expire and are up for renewal in the next decade.

Chip Kelly’s new ESPN gig could be pit stop back to college sideline

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After being cut from his second NFL job in as many years just after the college football coaching carousel came to a halt, we just knew Chip Kelly couldn’t keep himself away from the college football game this fall.

ESPN announced today Kelly has been hired to be a college football studio analyst with the network for the upcoming season.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting, said in a released statement. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”

Kelly says he is ready for the new job.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in his statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.”

Of course, the obvious thought here is this studio gig with ESPN is a one-year job at the most for Kelly, because his name will be one of the most popular names in the coaching rumor mills the moment something goes wrong at any number of programs this upcoming season. Kelly has been fending off rumors about his expected return to college coaching from the very beginning of his brief run in the NFL, first with the Philadelphia Eagles and then with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s pretty much par for the course for the former Oregon Ducks coach who also fought off NFL rumors for years before finally leaving for the NFL.

The job could be a good fit for Kelly, because he certainly knows his football and has a unique perspective to offer. Kelly could follow a path previously ventured by Rich Rodriguez (Michigan to CBS Sports Network to Arizona) and Urban Meyer (Florida to ESPN to Ohio State).

If there is one person who may be happy to have Kelly on board, it may be Monday Night Football analysts Jon Gruden, who now will hear a co-worker’s name heard in rumor mills more often for the next few months.

Academics will push 2017 four-star Auburn signee to a JUCO

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Until he gets his academic house in order, Alaric Williams‘ debut on The Plains will, at minimum, be delayed.

The 2017 signee confirmed via his Twitter account that, because he “came up short academically,” he will not play for Auburn this season.  Instead, the running back has signed with Garden City Community College and will play for the junior college in 2017.

In his tweet, Robinson intimated that, after his stint at the JUCO level, he’ll make his way to AU; whether that ultimately happens over the next several months remains to be seen.  The highly-touted signee also had a message for “the young recruits who are being highly recruited.”

“School is not something you play with,” the Alabama product wrote, adding, “I wish I would’ve realized that from the day I started high school.”

A four-star member of the Tigers’ most recent recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Alabama. In addition to running back, the 6-0, 195-athlete was also being looked at as a slot receiver in AU’s offense.