Conference Realignment: Where Does Clemson Fit Into the Picture?

Chris BurrowsCorrespondent IJune 11, 2010

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 26:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers watches on from the sideliens during their game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Memorial Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Don’t blink. You might miss something. The landscape of college football is in the process of changing drastically. There are no schools that will be insulated from the effects of this conference realignment.

There’s no doubt that the SEC will expand to keep pace with the giant that is forming out west. True or not, many are looking to the Pac-Monstrosity to become the new top league in the land. The SEC isn’t likely to give up that title anytime soon.

So where does Clemson fit into the chaos? Most expansion lists for the SEC have the Tigers as a primary or secondary candidate jump from the ACC’s ship. Would Clemson work in the new-look SEC?

On the football front, the new league and schedule would work out just fine, albeit after a few seasons of adjustment. Let the record state that on Saturdays, there is a big step up in class between the two conferences.

Clemson has been there (to a degree) in the past. Danny Ford’s teams were quite successful against Georgia during his tenure in Tigertown. Remember David Treadwell? Remember Herschel Walker never scoring in Death Valley? The Tigers (with the exceptions of 2006 and 2009) generally throttle South Carolina. A Tommy Bowden coached team blasted sixth-ranked Tennessee in the 2004 Peach Bowl.

There have been losses as well. Clemson hasn’t beaten Alabama since the time the forward pass was legalized. Auburn has had the other Tigers by the tail and Clemson travels to the plains this September. Recent games against Georgia haven’t gone as well, despite the fact that Clemson had a fourth quarter lead in their last visit to Athens.

What about the other programs? Clemson would immediately become contenders in basketball and baseball in the SEC. The ACC holds the hegemonic title in hoops that the SEC owns in football. Baseball is probably a push between the two conferences.

Academically, the SEC is a step backwards for the Tigers. Of course, that would mean a wider recruiting pool for all sports. It doesn’t have to. Vanderbilt holds different standards for its student athletes than the rest of the SEC. Clemson could hold its players to elevated requirements as well, but probably wouldn’t.

Leaving the ACC, where Clemson is a charter member, would be tough. There’s a lot of history there, including a national championship and a ton of regular season titles. They haven’t come lately, but the program seems to be on the right track towards another one.

There’s an uneasy silence with the SEC and the ACC right now. If the SEC does expand, it’s assumed that at least two (and possibly) teams would bolt from John Swofford’s conference.

Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Miami should be all on high alert.

The right move for Terry Don Phillips and Clemson University right now is to do nothing and keep their mouths shut. Just be ready to answer when the phone rings.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Clemson/Georgia every year?