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As the Clemson football team reported to Orlando, Florida on Thursday to get set for Wednesday’s Cheez-It Bowl against Iowa State, Omicron—the new COVID variant—has not been an issue at this point. And the Clemson administration hopes it does not become one.

“I talked to Coach (Dabo) Swinney earlier today, and we are excited and fired up for the bowl game, of course,” said new athletic director Graham Neff, who was officially hired by the Clemson Board of Trustees on Thursday. “But the here and now of Omicron and creating safe environments for our student-athletes, and still being able to compete and compete successfully, is Day 0, Day 1. That is just at hand, of course. Working though the opportunities and management of that is docket zero, sort of speak.”

But the variant is causing issues in college athletics as a whole and has already forced Texas A&M to back out of its appearance in the Gator Bowl, which left Wake Forest and the popular bowl game scrambling to find a replacement. Rutgers ultimately stepped in for the Aggies and will play the Demon Deacons on New Year’s Eve in Jacksonville, Florida.

As for Clemson and Iowa State, Neff says everything at the moment seems to be okay. Iowa State athletic director, Jamie Pollard, has also indicated everything appears to be good for the Cyclones to play on Wednesday, as well.


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“We are in really good shape,” Neff said. “As we really departed campus, I know they practiced. I believe, as late as Sunday. Then Coach Swinney cut the roster loose and the staff for a couple of days with their families, and as I said, they are rendezvousing down there.

“Obviously, with travel and seeing family over the past couple of days, we are going to look to manage and have a good safe environment down in Orlando.”

The Clemson Football team reported to Orlando on Thursday and had a team meeting. Neff said they will see how the next five days unfolds, but he feels, as the Tigers and Cyclones get set to play, they will be in a really good environment.

“I think we are coming into a really good slate,” he said. “I actually talked with Jamie Pollard, who is the athletic director at Iowa State, my counterpart now, yesterday and have been in cadence with Jamie over the past week. They are also in good stead and are looking to report and have a good week down in Orlando.”

Clemson and Iowa State are expected to kick off at 5:45 p.m., eastern time, on Wednesday in the Cheez-It Bowl from Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The game is slated to be televised on ESPN.

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