Clemson football’s unique approach drives media out of their mind

Dabo Swinney talks with media during a weekly press conference in the Poe Indoor Facility team room in Clemson, S.C. Tuesday, August 31, 2021.Dabo Swinney Aug 31 Presser
Dabo Swinney talks with media during a weekly press conference in the Poe Indoor Facility team room in Clemson, S.C. Tuesday, August 31, 2021.Dabo Swinney Aug 31 Presser /

Just a few short years ago a college football coach that graduated almost 100% of his (four year) players, ran a clean program and won championships would have been celebrated on the national stage as some type of sports hero.

Not today.  Not in the age of “gotcha” headlines, click bait articles and personal agendas accepted as “news”.

The same “journalists” who once praised the rare coach who operated in the manner described above now ask questions that have been asked a thousand times because they know the answers that haven’t changed will get clicks and drive social media crazy.

The same ones who once questioned North Carolina’s academic honesty now wonder why Clemson won’t take a transfer, any transfer, if he can play tackle, site and background unseen.

The same people that used to scream about a player losing a scholarship now have no problem celebrating a few at the top of the food chain moving from team to team, while hundreds give up scholarships for a false hope and to never to be offered another.

The same people who questioned coaches honesty in recruiting are baffled that a coach would stay true to the players he recruited.

College football and those that cover it have changed, but Dabo Swinney is operating the way he always has and his players (and their parents) love him for it while everyone else is mad.

Dabo’s approach is unique.  Notice I didn’t say “right” or “perfect”.  I’m not naive, it’s not perfect and certainly not for everyone and every college, but  as leader of the program Swinney has every right to run it as he sees fit until he’s no longer in charge.

A few ways in which Clemson’s approach is unique

Clemson doesn’t make a lot of offers (the 2023 number is in the high 70s last I saw), but the ones they make are committable and mean something.  For example, while schools are out there offering 7 or 10 quarterbacks, Clemson offered two in the 2023 cycle.

On NIL, at this point the narrative that Dabo, and Clemson by extension, is against the NIL is past laziness and headed straight to intentional misrepresentation or outright lies.

My guess is Dabo’s never going to want a high school student signing an $8 million dollar NIL deal,  but that’s different than being “against NIL”, though the two are often wrongly conflated.

He also thinks it’d be great if there were some rules.  Boy, what a nut job.

Well, it appears that there are at least two nut jobs now.  My guess is the spin has already started.

On transfers, no, Dabo is not chasing after every transfer that hits the portal.  He may not chase after any in a given year.  That’s his choice.  He chooses to be loyal to the guys he recruited.

How horrible of him.  What a bad human.

He has though, indicated that he will use the portal when he believes it’s needed.  Many (including Clemson faithful) often disagree on when it’s necessary, but the point is he’s not against transfers as a rule.

Dabo has mentioned he’s against the professionalism of college athletics and wants any payments to players tied to academics.  To that end, Clemson is one of a few universities that pay players for academic performance.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Clemson pays players a bonus for academic performance as allowed by NCAA guidelines.

Clemson is doing exactly what Dabo believes in: Tying pay to academics.

All schools could do this, but only a few do. I wonder why?  I also wonder why none of these intrepid reporters are covering that topic.

From a Clemson perspective, let me summarize:

  1. When we offer you, it means something, you’re not one of twenty.
  2. Come to Clemson and learn about NIL from our NIL Institute.
  3. When you accept our offer, we believe in you and are not going to hit the portal just because someone else is available.
  4. Come to Clemson, perform academically, get paid and get a degree.

I find this continued fascination with Dabo’s beliefs both frustrating and predictable.

Frustrating because almost all of it contains falsehoods perpetuated by purported journalists for their own good and predictable because it gets clicks.

But the most perplexing thing to me is why does anyone care what Dabo believes?  In theory, if Dabo isn’t making a lot of offers, was against NIL, didn’t believe in the portal and doesn’t want to pay players that would only hurt him and Clemson.

Shouldn’t that be celebrated by opponents?

So why is everyone up in arms about all of this, to the point of misrepresenting what Dabo’s for and against?

Some of it’s jealous rivals and other teams fans, but I believe it’s that the media is so jaded (can’t blame them) and can’t understand that he believes he’s doing what’s right for the players as a whole.

Not the 2% that make the NFL, but the entire team.

It’s a novel concept that many don’t understand, nor do they care to.

This, nor any other story from a Clemson perspective will stop the onslaught of media articles regarding Dabo and I’m OK with that and you should learn to be OK with it, too.

As one former player said, “They don’t know the man.”, and I think that sums it up nicely.

They’re projecting themselves and their beliefs onto a man that has chosen a different path for himself and his program.

The players and their parents are the ultimate judges in my mind and they literally laugh at the national media’s perception of Dabo and how his program is run.

That’s all I need to know.