No. 2 Notre Dame will play No. 3 Clemson on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte with the College Football Playoff in sight. The undefeated Fighting Irish already knocked off the Tigers once, and potentially could lose and still make a semifinal -- one of which is at the Rose Bowl.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has a slight problem if his team earns a berth in the Grandaddy of them All. Local and regional COVID-19 regulations prevent the Rose Bowl from having fans in attendance, including friends and families of players and coaches. Kelly wants no part of the game if families can't be there.
"If not sure if we'll play in the playoffs if parents can't be there," he said in his Friday press conference prior to the ACC Championship Game. "Why can't it be the Rose Bowl in Las Vegas? Why can't it be the Rose Bowl in another town? Where's the flexibility? The one thing these kids have been is incredibly flexible."
Kelly went on to criticize the tradition associated with the game.
"We're worshipping the ashes of tradition," he said. "They're not thinking about the student-athlete, and that's the issue."
CBS Sports senior writer Dennis Dodd reported earlier this week that the College Football Playoff management committee is considering moving the national semifinal out of southern California. One of the possible destinations, according to Dodd, is AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Cotton Bowl -- which is one of the two semifinal locations following the 2021 season.
"Maybe they need to spend a little less time on who the top four teams are and figure out how to get parents into these games because it is an absolute shame and a sham if parents can't be watching their kids play," Kelly said. "My kids have been on campus since June. They haven't seen their families very much at all. They've had to fight through COVID, some of them have had COVID. They can't be around their families for Christmas, and you're going to tell me we're going to have a playoff and maybe one site can have families and the other can't? Please."
Notre Dame still has some work to do, of course. Even though a CFP bid is likely, it still has a game against mighty Clemson on Saturday to take care of first. After all, it would be the first (and perhaps only) ACC title for the independent Fighting Irish.
Speaking of, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney shared similar thoughts on Friday, but stopped short of saying that his team won't go to the Rose Bowl if families aren't allowed.
"There are plenty of venues. If it doesn't work out (to have fans at Rose Bowl), punt and push it to next year," he said. "You try to have fairness for the four playoff teams. There are plenty of venues where you can have fans and an atmosphere for players that have worked so hard all year."
The Tigers and Fighting Irish will tee it up on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.