CLEMSON, SC — Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney said this week that he believes a lack of uniformity will lead to a complete restructuring of college athletics at some point. In particular, he sees the bigger and more important Power 5 schools forming their own division in football.
“I think there’s going to be a complete explosion…especially in football, and there has to be,” Swinney told ESPN. “I think there will be some sort of a break and another split eventually. Right now you have everyone in one group, and that’s not doable. Alabama has different issues than Middle Tennessee, but we’re trying to make them all the same and that’s just not the case. I think you’ll have 40 or 50 teams and a commissioner and here are the rules.”
Swinney said the current system is a “mess” and difficult to accomplish as college athletics continues to evolve and change in the new world of the transfer portal and the name. image and resemblance.
“There’s so much bureaucracy and you can’t do anything in real time. It’s frustrating,” Swinney said. “The communication is not good and the rules are outdated. Again, there have been a lot of positives when it comes to scholarships. But you have all these people voting on things, and that’s not just not apples to apples.”
Swinney emphasized that he was not against NIL, but remained adamantly opposed to the professionalization of college athletics and anything that rose to the level of fee-for-service.
“I’m against anything that devalues education,” Swinney said. “That’s what I’m against. I’m for anything that promotes education. People will come after me because I’ve always said I’m against the professionalism of college athletics, and I am. Kids don’t know what they’re doing I don’t know It’s a slippery slope if you professionalize college athletics and now you have salaries and taxes and you can fire kids on the spot and they have to pay their tuition and they pay for their accommodation and everything else.
“Sporting directors would sign up for this in a heartbeat. They would save money.”
Swinney, who is entering his ninth season as Clemson head coach, said it’s a good thing players can leverage their name, image and likeness once they arrive. at school and that they have a “platform”, but said it was absurd to think that the current NIL rules were not going to be used as a recruiting incentive.
“There are no rules, no tips, nothing,” Swinney said. “It’s out of control. It’s not sustainable. It’s an absolute mess and a train wreck, and the kids are going to be the ones who suffer in the end. There’s going to be a lot of kids left without degree and making decisions based on the wrong things.”
Swinney also said Clemson will not actively use the transfer portal unless there is a gap the Tigers need to fill on their roster. For example, he said the Tigers would be looking to add an offensive lineman in May.
“My transfer portal is right there in that locker room because if I constantly come out every year and add guys from the transfer portal, I tell all those guys in that locker room that I don’t believe in them, that I don’t think they can play,” Swinney said. “We also don’t do our job as coaches and scouts if we bring in a bunch of transfers.”
Clemson will hold its annual spring game Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The Tigers rebounded from a 4-3 start a year ago to win 10 games but did not make the college football playoffs after six straight appearances. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has lost more than 20 pounds after finishing with nine touchdown passes and 10 interceptions last season.
“We have to be better with DJs,” Swinney said. “All young quarterbacks make mistakes, but we weren’t very good with him and that amplified his mistakes. We have to be better with him. He has to be better and he’s better. He reshaped his body (from 260 pounds to 240) and focused on improving every day.”
Swinney was also pleased with the development of freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik. Klubnik, ESPN’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2022, signed up early and is going through spring training.
“One of the best things for (Uiagalelei) is bringing in Cade Klubnik,” Swinney said. “Nothing makes you better than real competition, and that’s what we have this spring.”