One Quick Thing: I’m burned out on discussing Clemson and the transfer portal

Clemson's zero transfer portal takes this offseason is a story that holds national appeal, but within the fanbase, people are starting to get sick of it, and I'm right there with them.
Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) listens to Dabo Swinney and Garrett Riley
Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) listens to Dabo Swinney and Garrett Riley / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

You might have noticed the posts on X that have been floating around lately about Clemson Football and their lack of transfer portal additions this season.

The Tigers are one of only four FBS programs that have not taken a transfer during this offseason.

The other three programs are the service academies: Air Force, Army, and Navy. They have such stringent admission standards that taking transfers is a difficult proposition.

The original post by Rivals has 628,300 views on X. This is a popular subject for college football fans around the nation.

My supervisor with FanSided sent me this because he felt it was something that I would want to cover. He isn’t a Clemson fan who follows the team closely, so he had no way of knowing what a Tiger fan would: this isn’t exactly news within the fanbase. In reality, this subject is getting tiresome.

Tiger fans have been discussing this for months. There are so many perspectives that we have been discussing, which includes here on the Rubbing The Rock website.

Whether it is misperceptions about Clemson’s philosophy with the portal (they do use it, but don’t use NIL for acquisition, which is the sticking point), the continued twisting of Dabo Swinney’s quote about the professionalization of the sport (which is semantics at this point), or the flipside of the equation which rarely gets national publicity (which is that Clemson has one of the best retention rates in college football and routinely ranks among the programs with the best academics and graduation rates), Tiger fans are frankly getting burned out on the topic.

As I peruse social media, I sense that even Clemson fans who want the Tigers to use the portal and NIL differently are tired of this topic as well. Whether we like it or not, the blueprint for the 2024 season has been defined, and nothing will change between now and the conclusion of the upcoming season.

I haven’t held back my opinion on this subject as it relates to this season and the future: Swinney and his staff need to prove that all of the positives that come from their philosophy on building the program (better retention rates, high academics, great culture) can lead to positive progress on the field. Thus far in the transfer portal era, we haven’t seen much of that. It has mostly been in the wrong direction.

I'm giving Dabo Swinney the benefit of the doubt through this season

I am hopeful we see that progress this season. I do have my doubts about whether that will happen, and most of those doubts center on the quarterback position. If the progress isn’t there, then something will need to change, and it can’t simply be changed by replacing position coaches as Swinney has the past couple of offseasons. A program’s direction and culture start at the top, so any real change must start with the head coach.

Having doubts doesn’t mean I expect the worst, and if there is a coach in college football who is being drastically undervalued at this time, it is Swinney. I want Clemson to be successful, and I want Swinney to be successful, and if I get those things as a fan, I will happily say my concerns weren’t realized and continue to give Swinney the benefit of the doubt that he knows how to navigate these waters better than anyone else.

As such, I am not interested in discussing Swinney’s philosophies on NIL and the portal ad nauseum for the next three months, and I don’t think most Clemson fans are either. I understand that stories about Swinney and Clemson’s zero transfers will continue to hold appeal for a national audience, but as a Tiger fan, I’m over it.

If Clemson doesn’t make progress or slips even more in 2024, I will be the one leading the charge that Swinney either needs to change his philosophy on NIL or consider other employment opportunities. That is still a big ‘if’ and I am not going to assume it will happen. There is a very good chance that Swinney can prove his philosophy can work in the landscape of modern college football.