Dabo Swinney, Head Coach of the Clemson Tigers Made a Major Decision that Shook College Football
Update: January 8, 2019
With the Clemson Tigers winning the College Football National Championship, Dabo Swinney has proved that his mid-season decision to change quarterbacks was the right move. Many fans and non-fans questioned this move when it happened. Not so much anymore. Congratulations to Dabo and his 2018 National Championship team.
News recently broke of Clemson Tiger quarterback, Kelly Bryant, announcing that he will be transferring. That is not a common thing, early in the college football season, so right away people started drawing conclusions. Many concluded that Dabo Swinney did Kelly Bryant wrong—and I’m sorry, but that is flat-out wrong. In fact, I imagine much of the negativity towards Clemson on this topic comes from people who just don’t like the team. Hey, all the good teams have haters.
Before I go too far down this rabbit hole, let’s be clear I am not a Clemson fan. But even if I was, I would have this same opinion.
Back to Dabo Swinney.
Dabo recruited one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Trevor Lawrence. It didn’t take an NFL scout to figure out that once this kid got his feet wet it was going to be hard to keep him off the field. The issue was, Clemson had a good quarterback already in Kelly Bryant. Bryant had been solid in his playing time, had led the team to the playoff, and had a great experience.
But here’s the issue—Trevor Lawrence is a rare talent. If you’ve seen the movie, “Remember the Titans,” he’s like Sunshine. And like Sunshine, once given the chance to shine, he did. Trevor Lawrence dominated in the Georgia Tech game, with four touchdown passes.
So then the question becomes…who will start at quarterback next week? As far as winning goes, either quarterback could help you win. But at Clemson, it’s not about winning one game, it’s about winning the ACC, and getting to the playoff, and winning championships.
The decision? Trevor Lawrence was named starting quarterback. And today it seems (to me at least) like the best decision. And that’s nothing against Kelly Bryant. Many programs would be lucky to have Bryant, and one will be, now that he’s transferring.
Back to Dabo….
Here’s where Dabo did anything but the wrong thing. If he had started Bryant even one more game, that would have burned Bryant’s last year of college eligibility. The competition between the two quarterbacks would have lasted the rest of the season, and Lawrence would probably have become starting quarterback eventually because that’s what’s best for the team—and Bryant would have lost the chance to play anywhere else. This way, he can transfer and maybe be starting quarterback somewhere else.
What was Dabo supposed to do, avoid making a decision so long that Bryant ran out of options? Commit to Bryant and lose the team’s shot at greatness for the year (in his opinion)?
So Bryant isn’t happy with the situation. Neither is Dabo. Sometimes in sports, business, and life you need to make difficult decisions. No coach wants to see their quarterback depth take a hit. But this was the decision that was best for everybody under the circumstances.
Clemson has their fans. Clemson has their haters. That won’t change. The only thing that has changed is Dabo Swinney has a new starting quarterback–and it’s for all the right reasons.
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