Clemson’s Dabo Swinney has ‘zero doubt’ football starts on time

I didn’t set out to (either directly or indirectly) mention the Coronavirus/COVID-19 in nearly every post I make, but let’s be honest. This virus has shaken the world to its core and within the sports world, it’s brought operations as we know it to a complete standstill.

Everyone has their rightful opinion/prediction on what the future holds for sports and if we will be watching football in a few months.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney held a teleconference on Friday morning and his message was clear. He fully believes there will be football this season and that it will kickoff as planned. While we can hope and wish he’s right…maybe even trust and believe it to be so…..I think we all can admit deep down that there’s a real chance sports won’t resume as originally scheduled this fall. Or at all.

Swinney said he doesn’t worry about the things he can’t control and is only concerned with doing his best to make sure his guys are ready to go when the time comes. 

“My preference is let’s get to work and let’s go play. That’s the best case scenario and I think that’s what’s going to happen. I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing. The stands are going to be packed and the Valley is going to be rocking.I don’t have any doubt. That’s the only thought I have,” 

Swinney lets other people figure out those doomsday scenarios. His only scenario is running down the hill and kicking it off in the valley. 

“I’ve got one plan, and that is to get the Tigers ready to play come late August. This is America, man. We’ve stormed the beaches of Normandy. We’ve driven a car on Mars. We’ve walked the moon. We have the smartest people in the world. We are going to rise up and we’re going to kick this thing right in the teeth and get back to our lives.” 

Swinney’s comments turned some heads within the last 24 hours. Some have argued that perhaps he’s out of touch or not taking COVID-19 seriously enough. If that’s your takeaway from his comments, fair enough.

But as the head coach of one of the premier college football programs in the country, what message does it send to not only his players and coaches but the entire sports nation if he–the man who built his program on the foundation and slogan “All In”–would have said something along the lines of:

“Shoot, man. I don’t know. It’s looking bad right now. We probably won’t get to kick off the season until later in the fall–if it all. It really sucks. We work so hard around the calendar and prepare for spring ball, conditioning through the winter and summer and now who knows if it’ll even be worth it or if there’s a season at all?

Dabo isn’t the president. He’s not even the president of Clemson nor the NCAA. Last time I checked he doesn’t have medical credentials or the knowledge of Dr. Fauci. He’s not an elected official. In short, I think he’s allowed to play the optimist card straight up and continue to do his job as best as possible–with the assumption things will go on as planned.

Roughly 24 hours after Swinney’s comments, President Trump stated he thinks the NFL season will start on time in September. However, he declined to say when he thought fans might actually return to stadiums across the county.

“No, I can’t tell you a date, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later,” he said.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made headlines Friday after stating he had ‘zero doubt’ the upcoming season will start on time. (Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Swinney’s job as spokesman for Clemson football isn’t to accurately inform the country about the pandemic, trends of the virus or discuss a potential vaccine. He gets paid to lead this program, be a positive influence on the young men whose parents have entrusted him, guide them both on and off the field and have his team ready to play week in and week out.

I hate to get political in any sense but even President Trump was pushing a narrative of having packed churches on Easter Sunday before back pedaling on those statements nearly six days later on Sunday, March 29 and extending the social distancing guidelines to April 30.

Swinney’s job was to update the media on Clemson’s spring session and give everyone a slither of hope Friday morning amidst a whirlwind of doubt and uncertainty we are facing as a country.

Not everyone was as critical of Dabo’s comments though and a tweet of support came from a (very) unexpected source in first-year University of South Carolina Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Mike Bobo, who referred to Swinney as the real “Tiger King”.

That reference is to Joe Exotic who has taken the internet by storm and vaulted into meme history lore after the Netflix documentary was released last month.

While it probably made Clemson fans chuckle, Gamecock nation wasn’t as pleased with the tweet. To their credit, it did seem a bit….odd. When I first saw it, I had to double check and make sure it was real and from a verified account. I first thought to myself….did LSU’s Ed Orgeron make a comment and Bobo is crowning him the real “Tiger King” in a semi-subtle dig at Clemson? Nope, it appears he actually meant Dabo.

We’re living in some strange times, man.

I’ve already given my two cents about the upcoming season and while I don’t have a problem with Swinney’s comments, I’m just not sure it will play out that way. I’m not wrong often (wink, wink) but I really do hope this time I am.

Heck, maybe I’m selling him short and Dabo knows something we don’t.

Only time will tell.