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With the way college football is trending, Clemson is going to need a new home in the very near future.

College football was turned on its head last week following the move of UCLA and USC from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten beginning in 2024. The SEC had already added Oklahoma and Texas for 2025. Super conferences are becoming a reality, and all the rest of the teams not in those two leagues is left contemplating their futures. 

That includes Clemson, which needs to take the leap and leave the ACC when the opportunity arises

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren has heard from two handfuls of teams looking for new homes since last Thursday's big announcement. 

That doesn't mean they'll all land there, but there's obviously a push to join one of two most lucrative conferences in college football. The other is the SEC, which is assuredly contemplating if and when it needs to make its next move. 

Should those leagues continue to expand, the Tigers will be one of the primary brands they'll look to add. After all, football is king, and Clemson is one of the top programs in the country. 

But which one makes the most sense for the conference and Clemson? 

SEC

Geography isn't the factor it used to be. Soon-to-be Big Ten foes UCLA and Maryland are separated by an entire country but it didn't stop the Bruins from signing up for a new league. Still, there's obvious value in playing away games as close as possible to your campus. Clemson is within a 5-hour drive to six SEC schools. None in the Big Ten are, so in terms of travel for student-athletes and fans, this is a no-brainer. 

Also, there are already several natural rivalries between Clemson and SEC schools that can captivate a regional and national audience. The Tigers have been playing in-state rival South Carolina since 1896, and the two sides had one of the longest-running series in college football until COVID-19 hit and the SEC decided to play a league-only schedule in 2020. 

The Tigers have a clear rivalry with Georgia that dates back to 1897 and has seen 55 meetings between the schools. The two sides, separated by 80 miles, met in one of the most anticipated games of 2021. They'll play five more times in the next 11 years.

Alabama can be considered a rival as well, with the two sides having played four times in the College Football Playoffs. The Tigers are used to playing Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU. Tennessee and Kentucky have been bowl opponents in decades past. And who wouldn't welcome Oklahoma-Clemson showdowns after Brent Venables left as the Tigers' defensive coordinator to become the head coach of the Sooners?

It just makes so much sense. However, there is a flip side to this. Are we sure those schools, especially South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, would want Clemson in their own league? The financial gain is great for the Tigers, but their rivals might not want to play them every year and let them get a huge (and equal) piece of their pie. 

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Does Clemson want to compete against those teams every year? At least among the fan bases, there's been animosity between SEC and ACC teams for years. Clemson values itself as a higher academic institution than some of the SEC schools. And while playing football in this region makes the Tiger fan base similar to many teams around it, there are a few cultural beliefs that are different than many SEC programs.

College football thrives on pettiness, and nobody should be surprised if that's applied in this situation. 

Big Ten

There are a lot of hurdles to overcome or discrepancies to look past for Clemson to join a conference made up primarily of Midwest teams, but if two California schools and the Big Ten can get over it, maybe anybody can. 

First and foremost, Clemson isn't a member of the Association of American Universities, something the Big Ten values greatly. According to the AAU website, those schools "earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research that improves public health, seeks to address national challenges, and contributes significantly to our economic strength, while educating and training tomorrow’s visionary leaders and innovators."

Nebraska is the only Big Ten team that isn't an AAU member. USC and UCLA both are, but the Big Ten has given no indication if it wants to look beyond that factor. It'll probably have to if continued expansion is the league's primary goal, so it's hard to say if that'll keep Clemson from being a potential candidate or not. 

Considering other academic factors, though, Clemson would probably like to compare itself to several Big Ten universities, but will that really matter when money is the primary reason for realignment? 

Can Clemson get over the travel demands, though? The Big Ten assured USC and UCLA that it won't hurt them financially, and maybe that's enough to get over the logistics and strains for student-athletes. Maybe we need to face the idea that going to class and keeping up with studies simply aren't important factors in all of this. 

In terms of rivalries, Clemson really doesn't have any in that conference. Ohio State and the Tigers had a little something going on in the last decade, and the fan bases don't much care for each other, so at least two national powers playing more often would be a plus. 

Basketball has that long-running ACC/Big Ten Challenge that Clemson participates in, but there haven't been any notable developments against other teams. A move to the Big Ten wouldn't be good for Tiger baseball, which is much more on par with SEC schools in terms of competitiveness and resources. 

From a football standpoint, though, the Big Ten would be a good fit for Clemson. The schedule probably wouldn't be too daunting but there are enough powers that getting out of the region could be beneficial for the program. With the addition of two California schools, eyeballs from coast to coast would be on the program on a regular basis. 

Conclusion

If you value logistics and rivalries, the SEC is the best fit for the Tigers. If it's about increasing the Clemson brand nationally and being a part of something new, the Big Ten is a better option. 

In a perfect world for the Tigers, Clemson would get offers from both the SEC and Big Ten, weigh the pros/cons and then make a rational decision. However, it might come down to which league comes calling first or needs to make a move the quickest. 

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