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5 Clemson Storylines Heading into Strange Week

Since Clemson won't be representing the Atlantic Division in the ACC title game Saturday, some things could get wild and crazy this week for the Tigers.

Welcome to...whatever this week is. 

It's been a while since No. 23 Clemson (9-3) wasn't preparing for a trip to the ACC Championship Game. For the first time since 2014, someone other than the Tigers is representing the Atlantic Division in Charlotte, so it's going to feel a little strange. 

Factor in what that means in terms of potential staff interviews, transfers and all the other things that come with the end of a regular season, and it's hard to predict how this week is going to go. 

While Dabo Swinney and the Tigers will definitely celebrate winning the state championship a little longer than usual while they also wait on their bowl destination, here are five storylines to keep an eye on:

1. Coaches for hire: A major downside to not playing for conference titles and playoff berths is opening up free time for coaches to entertain potential job offers elsewhere. Clemson's past success has certainly been a contributing factor for its staff continuity because when schools are filling head coaching and assistant positions, the Tigers are still playing. 

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has already reportedly been linked to the head coaching job at Oklahoma, which lost Lincoln Riley to USC. Venables has interviewed for big jobs in the past, and so has offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. There are 10 job openings in college football, and the domino effect will lead to plenty more. Will a Clemson assistant finally be wooed by another suitor? Stay tuned. 

2. Portal watch: Clemson lost four players to the NCAA transfer portal DURING the season. So what's going to happen now that players have time to weigh their futures and decide if they want to enter the portal with the ability to transfer right away with no penalty? Plus, there might be some fat trimmed from the roster, although that might not happen until after the bowl game because of how slim the personnel already is in some spots. 

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None of this is isolated to Clemson. Transfers are part of the culture of college football now, like it or not. Dozens of players from schools all over the country enter the portal every week, so it's likely the Tigers very well could lose a few more guys during the month of December. 

3. Hit the road: Not having a game this week means the Clemson coaching staff and really get after it on the recruiting trail. With the early signing period set for Dec. 15, the coaches have time to visit prospects, make more offers and try to make up some ground on some recruits it missed out on throughout the season. 

Playing for a championship would also be a really good recruiting tool, but it'll be fascinating to see how this staff works with time on its hands. Would it be a surprise to see Clemson pop up on a couple of big-time prospects' radars? 

4. Rest and relaxation: While the coaches will be busy, the players will get a chance to heal some bumps and bruises, and Clemson's had an inordinate amount of those in 2021. Justyn Ross recently had foot surgery and is going to be rehabbing. Others could get body parts worked on this week, and a clearer picture about who will and won't be available for the bowl game will begin to emerge. 

It's also an opportunity for players who elect to enter the NFL draft to begin the process of deciding if they're ready for the next level or not.

5. Remember basketball?: In case you've been too consumed with football to peek over at Brad Brownell's men's basketball team, this is the week to do so. The Tigers are off to a 5-2 start with both losses coming in the Charleston Classic a couple of weeks ago, but they play two big games this week. 

Clemson heads to Rutgers at 9 p.m. on Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for a rematch of their NCAA tournament showdown last season. Then the Tigers open ACC play at Miami on Saturday at noon. Meanwhile, the Clemson women's basketball team (4-2) hosts Northwestern at 8 p.m. on Saturday before Presbyterian College comes to town Sunday at 2 p.m.

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