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#pounditWednesday, June 29, 2022

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney fires back at SEC commissioner Greg Sankey

Dabo Swinney

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is not happy over SEC commissioner Greg Sankey’s comments about ACC scheduling.

Both Clemson and Notre Dame were slated to play rescheduled games against Florida State and Wake Forest, respectively, this past Saturday. However, the ACC opted to cancel those make-up games, meaning both schools had open weekends ahead of their meeting in next Saturday’s ACC Championship. Sankey noted that, unlike the ACC, the SEC had played virtually all of its originally scheduled games.

Swinney took aim at Sankey on Sunday, getting a shot in at Ohio State in the process.

“If the ACC was trying to really protect Clemson and Notre Dame, why would we even play a game this week?” Swinney said, via David M. Hale of ESPN. “I mean, if six wins can get you in the playoff, shouldn’t nine get you there? Shouldn’t 10 get you there?

“I would’ve loved to play this past weekend. I had no problem with that. I didn’t make the decision. We wanted to play when we were down in Tallahassee and were about to get on a bus and go play. Things happen.”

This is all politics, as Clemson may face an uphill fight to get into the College Football Playoff if they can’t beat Notre Dame in their rematch. The SEC has an interest in trying to ensure that as few ACC teams make it as possible, while Swinney wants Clemson considered no matter what. That’s also why Swinney has been saying things like this about the Buckeyes all week.

Urban Meyer responds to Dabo Swinney’s Ohio State comments

Urban Meyer

It’s safe to say Urban Meyer isn’t really on board with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s assessment of Ohio State’s playoff credentials.

Meyer responded to Swinney’s comments on Saturday’s “Big Noon Kickoff,” and he made clear that his standard for playoff selection is a bit different than the Clemson coach’s.

“There’s no doubt they’re one of the four best. Argument should stop there,” Meyer said. NFL talent all over the place, one of the best offenses in America, defense has got to get better. But there’s no question.”

It’s clear to Meyer that he thinks the job of the College Football Playoff committee is to select the four best teams in the country, and not solely based on resume. The Buckeyes have the talent, but have not played as many games as some other teams. Meyer thinks that shouldn’t matter. Dabo made clear that he disagrees, but he also has a vested interest in campaigning for his own team’s inclusion. It’s doubtful that the committee will see it his way if the Buckeyes win out.

Dabo Swinney does not think Ohio State should be in playoff

Dabo Swinney

The Big Ten has decided that Ohio State will be eligible for its conference championship game despite playing only a five-game schedule. Now that the Buckeyes are going to face Northwestern for the Big Ten championship, the question is whether or not a win would be enough to justify including them in the College Football Playoff.

Dabo Swinney does not think the Buckeyes deserve to get in.

Swinney spoke at length about the College Football Playoff debate during an appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show” on Thursday. The Clemson coach said he would rather have a two-loss team in the playoff than a team like Ohio State that only played six games.

“I just think there has to be some type of standard. If I was on the committee, it would be hard for me to leave out a 10-1 Texas A&M or an 11-game Florida team over a team that’s played six games,” Swinney said, as transcribed by Brendan Gulick of Sports Illustrated. “That would be hard for me if I was on a committee, but I’m not on the committee. So it doesn’t really matter.”

Swinney said his opinion has nothing to do with whether he believes the Buckeyes are talented enough to win the title. He simply feels the College Football Playoff Committee should “lean toward rewarding the teams that have been all in.”

Of course, Swinney’s view on the situation is self-serving. Clemson has one loss heading into their Dec. 19 ACC Championship Game against Notre Dame. If the Irish beat them again, the Tigers will be 9-2. It goes without saying that Swinney hopes the committee might eliminate Ohio State from the conversation, which would make more room for Clemson to get in.

Ohio State has considered a game against a last-second opponent for Saturday, but that did not come together. There is going to be some serious controversy surrounding the CFP no matter what happens over the next two weeks.

Dabo Swinney: Florida State’s actions an ‘insult’ to Clemson

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney continues to slam Florida State for their actions.

Florida State abruptly decided not to play their game on Saturday against Clemson due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Tigers’ program. Swinney on Sunday called out Florida State for their decision, saying that the Seminoles used COVID as an excuse not to play a game the administration knew the school would lose.

Swinney on Monday reiterated on his radio show that the circumstances came nowhere near the guidelines to trigger a cancelation. He said there has always been protocol in place regarding what would result in a canceled game, and that one positive COVID case never fit that criteria.

“The last thing we would ever do is put somebody in harm’s way,” Swinney said. “And it’s an insult to the credibility of our program, the credibility of our medical people. And we all agreed to the same rules, and just magically those rules changed on Saturday morning.”

Swinney also noted that Clemson did not have any positive COVID-19 tests within the program on Sunday.

It seems pretty clear that the Tigers wanted to play the game and met the criteria to play, and that FSU just did not want to. The question is whether you believe FSU was scared to play due to COVID, due to a likely lopsided loss, or some mixture of both.

Dabo Swinney blasts Florida State over canceled game

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney on Sunday blasted Florida State’s administration for postponing their football on Saturday at the last minute.

Clemson traveled to Tallahassee to face the Seminoles on Saturday, but the game was postponed at the last minute over a COVID situation (more details here).

On Sunday, Swinney was ticked off about things and made that known. He said the FSU administration used the COVID issue as an excuse to cancel the game.

Swinney says that FSU should pay for Clemson’s travel, or if they want to make up the game, they can travel to Clemson.

Swinney says his players were ticked off about making the trip only to have the game not be played.

He also believes the standard to cancel a game was not met.

FSU’s position of wanting to be cautious with COVID-19 makes sense, as does Clemson’s anger about making the trip and having the game scuttled at the last second. Swinney also rightly points out that they determined standards for playing and canceling games, and that schools knew the possibility of positive tests existed. That is why they expanded travel rosters so that teams could make contingency plans in the case of a positive test.

Clemson also offered to get tested again so they could play Saturday or Sunday and FSU wouldn’t agree to terms.

Clemson is 6-1 and has games against Pitt and at Virginia Tech remaining on its schedule.

Dabo Swinney weighs in on Trevor Lawrence possibly returning to Clemson

Dabo Swinney

Will Trevor Lawrence spurn the chance to be a top draft pick and return to Clemson in 2021? It’s been a hot topic of conversation lately, fueled in part by Lawrence himself.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney offered his own opinion on Thursday. Swinney said he didn’t expect Lawrence back for his senior season, but knew better than to rule it out entirely.

“I mean, we’ll certainly let him stay if that’s what he wants to do,” Swinney said, via Rich Cimini of ESPN. “But I’d be surprised if he’s back with the Tigers next year, but who knows? You never know. I didn’t think Christian Wilkins was coming back, but he did.”

There is precedent for Clemson players staying longer than expected. In addition to the Wilkins example, running back Travis Etienne stuck around for his senior year despite expectations that he’d turn pro. Lawrence has left the door open to doing it himself, which is why Swinney is talking about it at all.

One possible motivator might be avoiding the New York Jets, who are favored to land the top pick. Some have advised the Clemson quarterback to do just that, but Lawrence has said that’s not a consideration.

Dabo Swinney has funny punishment planned for Trevor Lawrence

Dabo Swinney

Trevor Lawrence drew an uncharacteristic penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct during Saturday’s win over Miami, and the star quarterback expressed regret after the game. If he does it again, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney may make him regret it even more.

Lawrence took a couple of hard hits in Clemson’s 42-17 win, one of which resulted in an ejection for a Miami player who led with his helmet. Later in that same drive, Lawrence rushed for a 3-yard touchdown and spiked the ball, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The stunt earned him a public reaming from Swinney.

“That was a dumb play on my part,” Lawrence said, via Todd Shanesy of The Greenville News. “That’s not what we’re coached to do. It’s not who we are. I shouldn’t have done that, but I was pumped. I was fired up. I let my emotions get a little too high.”

Swinney told reporters after the game that Lawrence will be free to celebrate however he wants when he’s playing for an NFL team next season. But for now, the Heisman Trophy candidate will have to play under Swinney’s rules. If he doesn’t, Swinney says he has a great punishment lined up for Lawrence.

“Next time, I’m going to put him on kickoff coverage,” Swinney joked.

NFL teams probably would not be too thrilled with Swinney if he did that, but they don’t need to worry.

The hit on Lawrence was pretty brutal (video here), so you can understand why he was pumped to stick it to the Hurricanes after that. That doesn’t mean it will happen again, especially if Lawrence isn’t interested in kick coverage.

Dabo Swinney wants Notre Dame to join ACC permanently

Dabo Swinney

Notre Dame will play in the ACC for the 2020 season. That arrangement isn’t expected to continue beyond that, but Dabo Swinney wants it to.

The Clemson coach said Tuesday that he’d love to see the Fighting Irish as a permanent member of the conference.

“I’m happy they’re in the league,” Swinney said, via Matt Howe of 27Sports. “Heck, I wish they were a permanent member in the league, to be honest with you. I think it’d be great. Every week, I always keep up with the ACC and what’s going on. Typically I may not be checking in on Notre Dame every week, but this year I’ll be paying closer attention because not only are they in our league but we play them.”

There are other reasons Swinney would welcome Notre Dame. Adding the Fighting Irish to the ACC would improve the profile of a conference that has struggled to produce a consistent challenger to the Tigers. That has at times hurt Clemson in the College Football Playoff rankings, especially compared to teams that play in the more powerful SEC.

Notre Dame needed the help in 2020 due to their independent status and various schools not playing this fall. Hopefully, that won’t be the case in 2021. At that point, they’ll probably go back to their status as an independent.

Dabo Swinney would be good fit with Jaguars, ex-GM says

Dabo Swinney

Could Dabo Swinney have interest in an NFL opening?

Former New York Jets general manager and current ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum said Monday that many within the league believe Swinney could successfully make the jump to the pros. Tannenbaum added that Swinney had been a target of some coaching searches already.

Tannenbaum then speculated that Swinney could be a good fit with the rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars.

“There’s a lot of speculation that Dabo Swinney, who’s been on the short list of multiple head coaching searches, could be a coach that teams want to talk about,” Tannenbaum said, via Zach Barnett of Football Scoop. “This would be the perfect storm and here’s why. He’s immensely popular in that area of the country and if he can go with Trevor Lawrence right down the road to Jacksonville, with all those picks and cap room, that’s the ideal situation.

“I know from talking to a number of NFL general managers, they see Dabo in the same mold as Pete Carroll. A high energy guy,” Tannenbaum added. “If Dabo Swinney was going to do it, and that’s a big if, this would be the perfect situation. If Swinney would ever go, this would be the perfect storm to do it with, following this season.”

Tannenbaum is right that it’s a big if. Swinney is untouchable at Clemson. Last year, the school made him the highest-paid coach in college football. He is consistently bringing in top recruiting classes and building championship contenders. Would he really give up all that to take on a major rebuild with the Jaguars that might not be successful?

If Swinney ever leaves the Tigers, it’s probably more likely that he goes back to Alabama. That’s a scenario that Clemson is at least a little worried about.

Numerous Clemson athletes come to Dabo Swinney’s defense

Dabo Swinney

Numerous Clemson athletes and people associated with the Tigers football program have come to Dabo Swinney’s defense at a time when some are looking to take down the head coach.

Some media members scrutinized the statements of Swinney and Clemson during the week in response to the protests across the country. There was also an allegation from a former player who claimed Swinney used the N-word when repeating song lyrics.

However, former Clemson tight end/wide receiver Brandon Ford disputed the story and said he didn’t recall the coach using that word.

Current linebacker Bryton Constantin defended Swinney’s character and called the coach “honest” and “humble.”

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence defended Swinney over his “Football Matters” shirt and said the entire program would defend the coach.

Clemson basketball player Aamir Simms said it was “sad” people were looking to bring down Swinney.

Other Clemson players shared that they were united under faith and love.

Former Clemson player Dutch Coleman condemned the “gotcha” attack on Swinney and separated that from the issue of institutional exploitation of college athletes.

Former Clemson player Miguel Chavis talked about what Swinney had done for him.

The mother of Clemson safety Ray Thornton III also had Dabo’s back.

Swinney, 50, has been the head coach at Clemson since 2009. He has built them into a powerhouse program that competes annually for the national championship (often against Alabama). He has led Clemson to two national championships.