The original plan for the football team was to play North Carolina State, Purdue and Clemson as its non–conference games in 2014.
After the Atlantic Coast Conference added Syracuse and Pittsburg last season, the league voted to move to a nine–game conference schedule, requiring Clemson to drop Kent State (2013) and Central Michigan (2014).
CMU Director of Athletics Dave Heeke was forced to explore other options for the third spot on the schedule when Clemson contacted him about potentially dropping the game.
“Clemson reached out to us in the midst of their conversations regarding ACC adjustments in football scheduling, and this was several months ago,” Heeke said. “I inquired about the options of either changing or dropping the game, and we knew that was an option and that we needed to look at the opportunity to schedule other games in a mutual way.”
The potential loss of Clemson from the 2014 football schedule allowed Heeke to open talks with Kansas, eventually locking up a two-for-one deal through 2018.
The Jayhawks will host CMU in 2014 and 2017 and will make the trip to Kelly/Shorts Stadium in 2018.
“With Clemson, we were both going out to find a team to replace each other,” Heeke said. “If we could do that, we’d mutually agree to dissolve that contract.”
The contract with Clemson was a single–game deal that would have earned CMU $500,000, though the three-game deal with Kansas balanced out to the same dollar amount.
“The guarantee with Kansas matches the guarantee with Clemson, so there was no money lost,” Heeke said. “It worked out really well.”
While games are often scheduled five, six and even seven years out, Heeke said there are times when teams drop opponents and need to fill gaps in short notice.
“It’s a challenge, but there’s always opportunities,” he said. “In the past, we’ve been less than a year out … so it can be done. It just can create very stressful conditions, and you’re not in the best position from a leverage standpoint.”
The addition of Notre Dame to the ACC as a part–time member has led to the announcement to keep the eight–game conference schedule, though Heeke said CMU hasn’t rescheduled with the Tigers.
“We’re always open to conversations with teams around the country, Clemson being one of them,” he said. “But right now, we have no set plan to play Clemson in the future.”