Dan Wetzel, Pete Thamel and SI's Pat Forde reveal what they have been hearing from leadership inside ACC institutions about the recent COVID-19 outbreaks across the conference and how it might affect football.
PETE THAMEL: So I made a few calls over the weekend about Notre Dame to see what the appetite there was and the appetite of the ACC. If we had to pick the least likely of the three conferences remaining to have an appetite to push through some bad optics, it would be the ACC. Wouldn't even be close.
The Big 12, quite frankly, has been even more bullish on playing, I think, than the SEC, which has been fairly bullish. And just by reputation and, quite frankly, by geographic political affiliation, those leagues you would think would be most dead set on playing. Well, the ACC ain't slowing down. That was made very clear to me when I made some phone calls this weekend.
This little blip in Raleigh and in Chapel Hill and in South Bend-- optics are not going to shut down this college football season. That's probably the biggest takeaway I had from my calls this weekend. The ACC is finally showing it's a football league. Remember in New York they used to have that joke about being a true Yankee, like was A-Rod a true Yankee? Well, the ACC is showing it's a true conference by just plowing through these optics and acting like their other brethren.
PAT FORDE: This is what I wrote last Thursday on that subject is the ACC might be going from the SEC and Big 12 sidekick in the big three leagues to the most willing to push forward towards kickoff. The Clemsonization of the conference may be complete. This is now a league that's thinking very aggressively about football, and It's not been that league in the past.
DAN WETZEL: Yeah, no more SEC light.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, you have to fundamentally alter your approach to save football. And do they want to do that? It's a great question. I'll say this much. Everything Notre Dame has showed me so far is they really want to play football.
Because they could have shut down the whole campus. They decided not to, and maybe that was a whole campus decision. But they stopped football practice for two or three days, but they were back at it Saturday. There are no classes in person on campus. There is no extracurricular activities for students. There's no student organizations meeting.
None of that. But there is football practice, and that tells me they really want to play. And I think they would have make whatever adjustments they feel like they could passably get by the faculty and some concerned alums. Some other concerned alums would be like, hell yeah, go for it.
PETE THAMEL: This has not shaken Notre Dame. Let's put it that way. They obviously went on pause and did the right things, and I don't want to say they're being cavalier. But you would have thought the campus shutting-- two months ago, we would have sat and said, oh, if they have an outbreak and the campus shuts down, forget about it. They're done.
And that just hasn't happened. That's just not the case. And so when you look back at the columns that were written with some gloom and doom tied to them, they were tied to the set of facts where we all assumed what Bob Bowlsby and Jack Swarbrick said out loud, which was if there's no students on campus. Because look, UNC and NC State are not gonna be the only colleges that shut down because of partying. There are going to be many, many others.