The SWAC is entering its 101st year of existence. Its alumni include some of the greatest players to ever pick up a football— Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Jackie Slater, etc. It also has some of the most well-attended football games of all-time: the Bayou Classic, the Magic City Classic, the State Fair Classic, etc.
It’s a brand McClelland seems to believe has been undersold in the past. And it’s something that he’s been looking to rectify during his three years and change at the conference helm.
“We understand our value and we understand our worth. We’re going to start to demand that our value and our worth be respected and entities understand that,” he said. “I think we are a big enough conference with enough name-brands now to start setting some of our own terms… We don’t have to necessarily acquiesce to some of the terms that have been laid out for us in previous times.”
Despite his lofty goals, McClelland downplayed the suggestion that he is pushing the SWAC as a “super conference.” He also acknowledged the chatter that the league may flirt with the FBS at some point in the future. But there were somethings that he addressed head on, such as the health of the MEAC and the future of the Celebration Bowl.
“Let’s make no mistake about it — the MEAC is strong and its vibrant. And we will continue to participate in the Celebration Bowl with the MEAC. Regardless of how many teams are in the SWAC and the MEAC, the Celebration Bowl is between the MEAC and the SWAC. That will never change,” he said.
In the mean time, the SWAC is preparing to play two football seasons in one calendar year. McClelland says he sees the league getting stronger by going after top athletes and coaches, growing television time and revenue and be a force in the FCS and beyond.
‘We’re going to continue grow and we’re gonna continue to be strong and we’re going to do everything we can to put ourselves in the best possible position.”