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Clemson coach says Seminoles 'forfeited' game after Tigers traveled to Tallahassee, didn't play

Dabo Swinney claims COVID-19 'just an excuse' by FSU administration not to play game
Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney argues call against Florida State Seminoles in 2019
Posted at 10:01 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 10:01:34-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney suggested Sunday that Florida State should either come to "Death Valley" or pay for the Tigers to travel to Tallahassee again for a makeup game that was postponed because of coronavirus concerns.

The game between the Seminoles and the No. 4 Tigers was postponed Saturday, just hours before the scheduled kickoff.

A message from the Atlantic Coast Conference said both teams' medical personnel "were unable to mutually agree on moving forward with the game."

Swinney said Clemson followed ACC protocols when the team traveled with a player who had shown symptoms of COVID-19 but did not test positive until after the Tigers arrived in Tallahassee.

"This game was not canceled because of COVID," Swinney told reporters Sunday. "COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game."

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell said in a statement Saturday that the Seminoles "hope to be able to play Clemson in December."

Prior to Saturday's announcement, neither team had a game postponed because of COVID-19, though Clemson has been without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence the past two games after he tested positive. He was scheduled to return for the Florida State game.

Clemson Tigers QB Trevor Lawrence vs. Florida State Seminoles in 2018
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence takes a snap in the first half against Florida State, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla.. Clemson defeated Florida State 59-10.

The Seminoles (2-6, 1-6 ACC) have lost five in a row against Clemson (7-1, 6-1) and been outscored 104-24 with Lawrence in the lineup.

Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a statement Saturday that the school had "followed all of the ACC's protocols in preparation" for the Florida State game.

When the ACC elected to move forward with a football season, it did so by building in two bye weeks for each team and an extra weekend between the final regular-season game and the conference championship game.

Rescheduling the game would mean the Tigers, who are poised to play for their sixth straight ACC championship, would likely have to play Florida State on Dec. 12.

"To me, the Florida State administration forfeited the game, and if they want to play Clemson, in my opinion, they need to come to Clemson or they need to pay for all expenses," Swinney said. "Other than that, there's no reason for us to play them. We were there, we were ready and we met the standard."

Radakovich said Clemson's travel costs exceeded $300,000.

It's been well documented that Florida State's athletic program is in a financial deficit, making such demands unlikely.