Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers played for the national championship last year. Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers may play for the national championship this year. Dabo Swinney feels he’s earned the right to ignore a troubling accusation levied against his football team.
Such was the scene Sunday, a day after Swinney’s Tigers dusted the South Carolina Gamecocks 56-7 to improve to 11-1 and take another step towards earning a spot in the 2016 College Football Playoff. Accounts from some of the Gamecocks, however, were that Saturday’s contest turned especially ugly. South Carolina players claim that racial slurs were lobbed in their direction several times throughout the game. After the game linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams spoke to the The Post and Courier about the alleged verbal assault.
“They called one of our defensive linemen, they used the N-word. An offensive lineman, I don’t know his number. ... We’re going to get our get-back. Next year we play them in Williams-Brice Stadium, and we’re definitely going to have that game circled.”
Wide receiver Terry Googer tweeted the following after the game:
“Never thought I would hear so many racial slurs in my life!! Classless is not a strong enough word to describe the actions!”
Defensive lineman Dante Sawyer tweeted a similar account.
“racism still alive in Clemson i see.. classless sobs, still calling people (racial slur) is crazy”
I’m not interested in debating whether or not this actually occurred. Clearly though, there’s enough there that it should prompt some sort of action from somebody at Clemson University. Swinney disagrees. He was asked about the accusations on Sunday, and flatly refuses to acknowledge the possibility that this incident occurred. On top of that, wants you to forget about it.
“I was made aware of that. Obviously everyone is talking about it. That’s a shame. Absolutely I asked my guys about that. To a man, absolutely false. I believe my guys. I know the character of our team and that’s really all there is to say about it.”
Thank you, Encyclopedia Brown. I’m relieved we can wrap up this investigation and get to work on the case of the mysterious handprints.
Swinney’s complete disinterest in even exploring the possibility that this could have happened is simply another in a long list of examples proving that the Power Five conferences are littered with coaches that feel they are above any sort of moral obligation, and in extreme cases, the law. This shouldn’t have been difficult to handle. Watch:
“Clemson University and the entire football staff takes these allegations very seriously. We will work together to determine exactly what happened and then address this fully and appropriately.”
See that? I did that. It’s not eloquent, I banged it out in front of a Shark Tank marathon, so forgive me. That Swinney is not evolved enough to relay a similar sentiment is discouraging, though perhaps we shouldn’t expect much from a guy who “leads” like this:
Swinney’s statement on Sunday was essentially the Clemson coach saying that his team is focused on the College Football Playoff and looking into the allegation of hate speech is a chore his squad, staff, and university can ill afford to waste their time with right now. And they’ll back him up 100%.
It’s a privilege that the college football universe provides those coaches deemed “elite.” In fact this story will likely have completely disappeared by the time the week has ended, simply before Swinney told us to ignore it.
We’ve clearly not learned how tremendously dangerous it is for these coaches to rule absolutely. Swinney told college football to focus on the CFP, and focus on the CFP is what college football is going to do. This cycle will repeat until the sport comes face to face with another ugly crisis that sweeps the nation and temporarily tarnishes the sport. We’ll point to this as a “sign,” quickly forget it ever happened, wash, rinse, repeat. Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen.
Group of Five schools don’t have this problem. Scandals like this occur of course, but do you think a coach routinely finishing 5-7 in the MAC or Mountain West Conference can get away with acting so flippantly towards a fairly serious accusation? Nah.
Clemson. I implore you. Act like you care. Just little. Restore a little faith.