Swinney in favor of spring opponents

CLEMSON - If the NCAA Tournament is going to expand to 96 teams, wouldn't it make sense to look at building an additional revenue stream with spring football?

Keep in mind I'm talking about real football here, not glorified scrimmages that take place between players on the same team.

I'm talking about an event that closely resembles an actual football game you'd see on any given Saturday during the fall.

Can it happen? Will it happen? What would it take for it to happen?

Your guess is as good as mine but one thing stands clear, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is "All in" with the idea.

"I'd love it," he told CUTigers after Wednesday's final practice before spring break. "I just think it would be exciting for the team. You know, in the NFL they have preseason games. High school has jamborees and I've always enjoyed that. But yes, I'd love it. Absolutely love it."

The idea, of course, has been tossed around for quite some time and also presents its fair share of issues.

For one - if a true spring game existed against another opponent, who would it be?

Naturally most teams would want to avoid a team it would face on its schedule later that year. If Clemson played North Carolina in a given year, the last thing you'd want to do is see the same team in a scrimmage five months before you did in the regular season.

In addition, what would be the format and how would you prevent teams from spending their entire March and April from game-planning their opponent?

Spring practice is usually focused around fundamentals, team building exercises and self-improvement ... chances are all of that would go out the window if a true opponent was waiting at the end of it all.

Also- how much would you charge for a true "spring game?" $10? $20? More?

And what happens if your team loses its scrimmage or game against another team? Does that dampen expectations for the coming season or hurt ticket sales?

Still, Swinney says the benefits far outweigh the potential consequences.

"You don't want to spend your spring game-planning for an opponent," he said. "But you'd say okay 'let's play the 1's the first quarter, 2's the second quarter and then have a red zone scrimmage.' Then you can say, 'you can't blitz the quarterback.'

"But the biggest thing is I think you could really generate a lot of revenue. That's the biggest thing I see. You can do something in the spring, generate money and give back to the university. I mean, you think we could generate good money having Georgia come in here? You give the money to a good cause or back to the school."

Further supporting the notion is the fact that the idea is already being implemented in another sport.

NCAA Division I basketball programs are allowed to scrimmage other teams provided that no score is kept during "the game" and that the event is not publicized by the school.

In fact, Oliver Purnell's basketball team has taken advantage of this by scrimmage Georgia in each of the last two years.

Certainly, given the status of college football in the south, it would almost be foolish to not invite fans to such an event considering the financial implications involved. And with the fans would probably come more television dollars as well.

Also- just think the anticipation that would build around both fan bases in an April Clemson/Georgia matchup?

Swinney didn't dismiss the idea of doing a home-and-home with another team either.

"What about Georgia? Tennessee? Or how about them Gators?" he said. "Those would all be great. The fans would love it and so would the players and coaches."

Still, such a monumental shift in thinking for a sport that still doesn't offer a true playoff likely makes the idea virtually impossible - for now.

Despite the huge amounts of money and interest a true "spring game" would generate, Swinney said it's not something he sees happening in the foreseeable future.

"I don't know," he said. "Probably not. Still I'd be for it. I think it would be fun. You have your scrimmages anyway. You could still have an orange and white game. I just think it's a good idea."

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