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Dabo Swinney Speaks His Mind

Court Cases Deciding Clemson's Future

Dabo Swinney had much to say last week about the current direction of college football. It started at the ACC spring meetings from May 13th– 14th. After the first day of meetings, Swinney met with Clemson media insiders to answer a few questions. He was asked about the rapidly changing landscape of college football, as well as the direction the Tigers’ football program is headed. Swinney, as usual, did not hold much back in his answers. One of the most polarizing figures in the sport made sure to let his feelings be known on any topic he could last week.

Thoughts On The Current Landscape of College Football

When Swinney was asked where college football is right now, he immediately started talking about the constant changes in the sport. “Never in my lifetime has there been so many issues or things that just aren’t settled,” Swinney told Clemson insiders. He does believe things are headed in the right direction, though. These changes make Swinney appreciate the foundation they built at Clemson even more. Throughout the short interview, he talked about the program being anchored at different times.

Thoughts On The Strong Clemson Foundation

One thing Swinney has raved about many times over the last couple of years and once again this week is how well his program has done at retaining players. In an era with so much player movement, the Tigers have done an excellent job of keeping their roster mostly intact. Swinney told the media, “I think it’s a testament to the people that we have in our place, our culture.”

Many of the players who do leave are usually older graduate players. Swinney proudly talks about Clemson having the highest graduation rate in college football. This is true, at least for the division I level, with the Tigers holding a 99% graduation rate. “In this world of transaction, we’re still a very transformational program,” says Swinney.

He then went on to talk about the success on the field Clemson has had the last few years. Swinney boasts about his team winning 30 games and three postseason games (two bowl games, one ACC Championship) in the previous three years. He wants to remind fans that even though the Tigers haven’t made the final four, they have been having some success. Swinney also says the last few seasons have developed years. This year, he feels like his players are hungry to make that jump again.

Thoughts on Player Revenue Sharing Discussion

Regarding the discussion on player revenue sharing, Swinney calls it “one big pot of clay that no one really knows what will come out of it, but there are a lot of hands on it.” The Clemson headman believes there is no level playing field right now. He says he is lucky because Clemson is anchored, as previously mentioned. This ensures he doesn’t have to “shop” in the portal. According to Swinney, if he were to take a job somewhere else, he’d have to do things differently because half the players would leave.

Swinney also believes there needs to be more order in everything. He compares the college football situation to the structure of the NFL. “The NFL has some order, we don’t really have any rules,” Swinney claims. Swinney is hardly the first coach to express these feelings. All offseason, different head coaches around college football have said they wish the transfer portal and NIL deals had more rules. Especially with how much it has affected high school recruiting as well.

The one thing Swinney made it known he is entirely against is the talks about getting rid of walk-ons. Over the last few weeks, there has been more and more buzz about the NCAA thinking about taking away walk-on opportunities. When it was brought up to Swinney, he did not stutter once when he said, “That’s probably the worst thing I’ve heard since 1988.” As a former walk-on himself, he believes that it would be a terrible idea. It would take away many opportunities for players who are willing to bet on themselves. He added that he wanted that entirely thrown out of the pot of clay.

Thoughts on Trent Pearman

Speaking of walk-ons, the last thing Swinney was asked about was the role of quarterback Trent Pearman. The redshirt Junior quarterback put on a show last month in the Clemson spring game. Many fans have been outspoken about believing he should get more opportunities heading into the fall. According to Swinney, though, Pearman’s role has already changed. For much of his time at Clemson, Pearman has been a strictly scout team player. This season, he will be taking more meaningful reps with the first and second teams in practice. Swinney says he still has some areas to develop in.

He reiterated, though, that he is a big reason why Clemson hasn’t taken a quarterback out of the portal. Swinney has been watching Pearman play football since he was in high school. Pearman is from Clemson, South Carolina, so it was a quick Friday night drive for Swinney to see him. This has helped Swinney get a good understanding of how talented Pearman really is. With this, Swinney has felt no reason to look hard in the portal for another quarterback.

Thoughts on Lack of Transfer Portal Commits

That sentiment echoes what Swinney believes about his whole roster. He thinks they already have the talent to win. It’s just been about developing many of those guys over the last few seasons. Later in the week, during another interview, Swinney was quoted saying most players in the portal aren’t good enough to play at Clemson. This is a very harsh statement that, on the surface, may sound arrogant, but how he elaborated on this is true.

Many players in the portal were not playing where they were previously. Therefore, they want to go to a school where they’ll have a chance to start. Others who are the higher-end talent usually know where they are going when they enter the portal and only do it as part of the process. So, it is hard for Clemson to truly compete in the portal. However, Swinney does not see that as a problem. He still loves to develop high school players who go to the school because they love football and want to help keep Clemson anchored.

Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports


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