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Defending Dabo: Vaccines, NIL, and Misperceptions

Dabo sets the record straight on his paying players comments, but the talking heads probably won’t listen.

Clemson University Football Team Lead Protest March After Death Of George Floyd Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

When Dabo Swinney speaks, the college football world tends to listen. Or, at least listen to part of what he says. Whenever Dabo talks to the media, tweets like this pop up.

College football coaches and players getting memed into caricatures of themselves is par for the course, but for one reason or another, Dabo’s image, to many, doesn’t seem to actually match the words he says. The original statement that probably began this was a comment from years back where Dabo discussed the prospect of paying players. Essentially, Dabo said he was against players getting put on salary and the professionalization of college football. Many times since then, Dabo has emphasized that he supports NIL and his players being able to get paid off endorsements. I can completely understand the desire to dunk on the second highest paid coach in America when he suggests that his players shouldn’t get paid for their labor. Once again, however, Dabo has clarified his comments, but people aren’t going to listen, and Dabo knows this

To me, it sounds like Dabo doesn’t care what your perspective of him is, because he knows who he is and what he supports, and more importantly, his player, coaches, and others in the program also know that.

As the “has Dabo retired yet hyuck hyuck” tweets have been fired into the twittersphere, it’s made me reflect on this weird desire by many to create their own narrative of Dabo. Let’s look last year, as the pandemic began. Dabo gave a positive, hopeful statement, using the acronym T.I.G.E.R.S, standing for “This Is Gonna End Real Soon.” This somehow led to many deciding Dabo must be a COVID-denier.

If you’ve followed Clemson for any stretch of time, you know that the persistent optimism and use of slogans and acronyms are a big part of the Clemson machine. And honestly, I wish Dabo did a little more promoting of social distancing and getting vaccinated, but this whole thing of dunking on him for just trying to have a positive outlook shows that people are going for anything. Which brings me to my next point.

Dabo got vaccinated. Dabo is encouraging his players to get vaccinated. We will see if that makes the media rounds or not

There’s just absolutely no pleasing some people, huh?

A couple of other things recently have stuck out to me that people aren’t talking about. The first is Dabo’s advice to Clemson quarterback Bubba Chandler, who is leaving the program before taking a snap in order to pursue a career in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization. These were Dabo’s words to Chandler.

While this was the right thing to do and we shouldn’t expect any less, if you’re going to constantly take shots at a coach, you should be able to eat a bit of crow and admit when he’s doing something right.

And here’s the other thing.

If you don’t recall, Isaiah Battle left Clemson early for the NFL Supplemental Draft after be dismissed for his “third and final strike.” After bouncing around the NFL for a few years and playing in the inaugural and only season of the XFL reboot, Battle has made his way back to Clemson, being welcomed back. As awesome as it has been to see Clemson hire the likes of CJ Spiller and Tajh Boyd, this hire may make me the happiest because of the reconciliation of a program and a former player who parted on negative terms. This is really what makes the Clemson family and this program different. Again, we will see if this gets a lot of attention.

To wrap this up, Dabo Swinney is not perfect. I do not agree with everything he says or does. I was disappointed last summer when he flew on his private jet to Florida during the height of the pandemic. I felt his ranking of Ohio State at #12 in his coaches poll was a big misplay and added more venom to an already angry Buckeye team. But had Clemson won the game, I might have thought a bit different of it.

I guess the gist here is that you don’t have to agree with Dabo, and you don’t have to even like him. But maybe, just maybe, you could listen to him a little more. Of course, probably the folks who need to hear that aren’t going to see this article or give it a chance.