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Clemson's Best Move During Expansion is to Sit, Watch, Listen

Clemson football isn't known as being a reactive program. 

The Tigers have been at the forefront of helping move college football forward. Head coach Dabo Swinney created P.A.W. Journey more than a decade ago to help prepare his players for life, and it's even more pertinent now in the name, image and likeness profitability era.

Clemson figured out the right path to making (and succeeding in) the College Football Playoff by setting their own precedent to take on powerful, out-of-conference teams in the regular season to offset weaker years in their own league. 

From culture to recruiting to sustainability, there aren't many programs in all of college football at the Tigers' level. So when the news broke this week that SEC was set to absorb Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, it created obvious questions about how it affects Clemson. 

As of right now, it doesn't. But the landscape is ever-changing. While the Tigers are always prepared to stay ahead of wherever the wind is taking this sport, this is a time to sit, watch and listen. 

That might be hard to do, but Clemson needs to be reactive to what's going on around it. There are reports that the SEC isn't done with expansion, that the most influential conference in college football is eyeing more big fish from other leagues.



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Just seeing Clemson's name brings back decade-old memories, when the Tigers and FSU allegedly flirted with leaving the basketball-focused ACC for the Big 12. It didn't happen then, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen now. 

Sure, new ACC commissioner Jim Phillips made it clear at ACC Kickoff what the future of the league is in his mind.

“As I’ve stated since my first day as ACC commissioner, football must be the No. 1 priority for all of us,” Phillips said. “Our schools, the league, the ACC Network, partners and coaches. We’ve been collaborating for months to ensure that ACC football has the mindset of 24-7, 365. We’re looking to work together to further elevate football in the ACC. We’re just getting started.”

Was that a preemptive strike on what could happen to the structure of conferences and his ploy to keep the two biggest football names in the ACC? It's going to be awfully hard to do if the SEC comes through with an incredibly lucrative deal to set up the super conference of super conferences. 

Look, if that were to happen, it doesn't mean it's necessarily the absolute best thing for Clemson, but the Tigers have to listen to any overtures. Quite frankly, this isn't anything close to resembling the game from 50 years, Heck, it's not even the same college football from the previous decade. 

Traditional thinking has been replaced. Some folks never foresaw players making money for themselves or something called a "portal" that allowed athletes to jump from one program to another with no penalty. 

The old way of thinking is gone, and it may very well serve Clemson well to take its elite program to the elite conference. But short-minded thinking and being oblivious to the direction of the game didn't get the Tigers two national titles and a seat that the annual contenders table. 

Again, sit, watch and listen. It's not something this program has done much of the last 10 years, but it's time for Clemson to let opportunities come to it and then be ready to make swift decisions.