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Clemson Football

Dabo Swinney believes transfers playing right away would be "free agency and total chaos."

February 13, 2018
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Sometimes student-athletes want a little change of scenery. And by “little” we mean they want to transfer to a new program.

It happens all the time: a player thinks they don’t fit in well with what’s going on at their respective school, coaches get fired or leave abruptly, or they don’t like it there anymore. There is a multitude of reasons why someone would want to transfer.

We’ve seen it already with seven Clemson football players transferring to a new locations. Head coach Dabo Swinney always tries to be helpful to the players who are leaving so they’ll land on their feet. Quarterback Zerrick Cooper was no exception.

With Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, and Austin Bryant making their decisions to come back to the foothills of South Carolina, the defensive linemen room became a little too crowded so others decided it’d be best to fly the nest.

“Zerrick decided to transfer, and he actually called me to help him, and I did,” Swinney said. “I think he has landed in a great spot down there at Jacksonville State. We are excited about his new opportunity."

With Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, and Austin Bryant making their decisions to come back to the foothills of South Carolina, the defensive linemen room became a little too crowded so others decided it’d be best to fly the nest.

Jabril Robinson and Sterling Johnson want to make the most out of their eligibility at another school, but they will graduate from Clemson before leaving. In fact, Robinson has already graduated. C.J. Fuller is another player who will transfer after he graduates in May so he can make the most of his final season elsewhere.

Swinney knows the decision for those players is hard to make, but he also knows it’s about business and is nothing personal. The love for those players won’t leave once they do.

“It’s just a football decision. These are great men with great standing in our program and want me to help them, and I am going to help them forever because these are our guys,” Swinney said. “They are Tigers. I don’t care where they play their last year of football. To me, if you come here and handle your business and you graduate, then you’ve earned that.”

Although Swinney may believe his players have earned the right to transfer, he is not a believer in the NCAA’s proposal of a new transfer rule.

“It’s just a football decision. These are great men with great standing in our program and want me to help them, and I am going to help them forever because these are our guys. They are Tigers. I don’t care where they play their last year of football. To me, if you come here and handle your business and you graduate, then you’ve earned that."
- Dabo Swinney

In January, a proposal was made that every student-athlete could transfer once without having to sit out a year no matter their college choice. You would only have to meet one of a few criteria.

You could graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the original school, your coach could have been fired, or if sanctions have been placed on your original school just to name a few of the criteria.

The argument is if coaches’ salaries are going to continue to increase (Brent Venables just got a pay raise and makes $2 million per year), then players who don’t get paid should at least be able to have this opportunity.

Swinney is not a fan of the proposed plan.

“I don’t like it. I’m not sure there is a coach that likes that,” Swinney said. “I don’t know how you manage a roster. I think there’s got to always be some consequences. That’s what we are trying to create is, ‘no consequences.’ We want a society with no consequences.”

The head coach knows the system needs some changes, but there is a need to find the right balance so that the process is “modernized.”

“You are going to have a lot of bad things happen,” Swinney added. “It’s basically like the NFL right now. The NFL has college scouting, but they also have an NFL scouting department where they are just studying players from another team. That’s what will happen in college.”

Swinney also mentioned if this proposal was in place and he was interviewing a defensive line coach from a good school, then that coach could bring his players along with him. It would open up a can of worms, and the result would be messy.

While Swinney is a supporter of players transferring to where they fit and doing what is best for their football future, he believes the new student-athlete transfer proposal would turn college football upside down.

“What is on the table right now is free agency and total chaos.”

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Dabo Swinney believes transfers playing right away would be "free agency and total chaos."

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