Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune
Published 7:59 a.m. ET Dec. 20, 2020 | Updated 8:00 a.m. ET Dec. 20, 2020

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Irish coachBrian Kelly took issue with the wording of a question about picking up the pieces Saturday after Clemson punctuated the end of Notre Dame’s four-month run in the ACC with a pungent parting gift.

The rest of the college football world is more concerned at the moment with how the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will process CFP No. 3 Clemson’s 34-10 hazing of the No. 2 Irish Saturday in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The suspense ends at 12:15 p.m. (EST) Sunday, when the Irish (10-1) will either see their name in the semifinal bracket, most likely against a team with more octane than the one they faced Saturday — No. 1 Alabama (11-0). Or someone else lands at No. 4 instead of the Irish, and Notre Dame heads to a Jan. 2 date in the Orange Bowl against a team that Alabama has already subdued this year.

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“Absolutely Notre Dame deserves to be in (the playoff). They’re dadgum 10-1,” offered Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose Tigers also happen to be dadgum 10-1.

Ultimately, though, through the Notre Dame lens, Saturday’s aftermath matters most — wherever the Irish end up in January.

Program evolution is never a straight line. So the right response to a regressive step like Saturday’s is how Clemson became,

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