Category Archives: Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

“That is the life of a walk-on.”

Clemson’s got itself a roster management problem.

Former Clemson walk-on football players are in jeopardy of losing their scholarships as the program has surpassed its 85-scholarship limit.

Clemson currently has 88 scholarship players mainly due to an influx of seniors returning for their final year. However, the program must meet its max of 85 by August…

Swinney mentioned three players—long snapper Holden Caspersen, quarterback Hunter Helms and running back Domonique Thomas—that the program awarded scholarships to ahead of last season.

“Those are three guys that came here as walk-ons, and all of those guys we felt earned scholarships,” Swinney said. “But in a situation like this, that is where you would have to start. Who knows, though, what will happen? We have until August. Somebody may leave, I don’t know. We’ve got a plan and we will be at 85 when we get to September.”

The thing here isn’t that what Dabo’s proposing is unusual.  I’m sure every programs goes through similar tough calls.  What’s worrthy of some mockery, though, is how stuff like this comports with Dabo’s folksy platitudes about commitment.

Good thing he’s got a plan.



Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

The ultimate “my, how the turntables have turned” comment comes from…

… Stewart Mandel, of all people.

It’s not funny, ’cause it’s true.


Filed under Alabama, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football

Dabo goes in the transfer portal.

But not for a player.

What do you call it when you reach out to someone who’s active with another football program?  Oh right, tampering.  But that’s only when a college athlete is involved.  When it’s a coach, it’s called a new opportunity.


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

The Right Rev. Dabo

What do you get when you cross a televangelist and a head football coach?

There are times when it amazes me he’s got a couple of national championship trophies in his display case.  More power to him, I guess.


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

TFW all your goals are no longer in front of you

A little judicious goal post maneuvering from Dabo Swinney:

Sounds like a man who’s ready for a 12-team playoff.


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

Go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.

Geez, Finebaum is really dogging the Clemson fanbase.

“There is no doubt after reading social media (Wednesday), the most insecure, paranoid fanbase of college football in America is Clemson. The Clemsonites take it to a whole new level. It’s one thing if you’ve never won a national championship. … But these guys have won two in recent years and they are just so desperate for attention. They are so desperate for adulation. They are so desperate to be loved.”

He did have a message for Clemson fans, though.

“I just laugh at Clemson fans,” he said. “Get over yourself, OK? You’re not that important. This 2022. College football has left you behind.”

That should make for a fun show this week, which is all PAWWWLLL!!! really cares about anyway.


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, PAWWWLLL!!!, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground

PAWWWLLL!!!, and “where it’s at”

PAWWWLLL, stirring things up:

Sporting News’ Bill Bender recently released his top head coaches for the 2022 season with Nick Saban on top, followed by Dabo Swinney, then Kirby Smart, Ryan Day, Luke Fickell, Brian Kelly, Lincoln Riley, Jimbo Fisher, Jim Harbaugh and Kyle Whittingham.

College Football talking head Paul Finebaum was not a fan of Swinney being listed above Smart.

“How about right now?… My pushback is we don’t need a list,” Finebaum told Bender on the Paul Finebaum Show Tuesday. “We already know that. We want a judgment to say who’s better. Are you telling me – I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but I’m going to – are you telling me that Kirby Smart is inferior by one number to Dabo Swinney, in spite of that championship? I don’t need to remind you but look at the trajectory of the programs right now and where they are. I think Dabo Swinney is yesterday’s news, and Kirby Smart is where it’s at in college football today.”

I thought a list is a kind of judgment.


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football, PAWWWLLL!!!

“Justyn is in a position to make this decision for himself.”

If you think back to last season’s opener, one thing we Dawg fans were reminded of as the game approached was Justyn Ross’ return for Clemson.  He had been one of the best receivers in college football before he lost a season due to a serious spinal injury.  I don’t know about you, but at the time I didn’t realize just how serious his condition was.

What makes his evaluation even more difficult? Ross is attempting to become the first known player to make the NFL with a congenital fusion in his spine.

“Justyn has a condition that is very rare, and to my knowledge, there is no precedent of another high-level American football player with this condition playing football,” said Dr. David Okonkwo, who performed the surgery on Ross that allowed him to return to play. “So we were paving new road as we went through the process.”

FROM THE BEGINNING, there was one glimmer of hope that Ross clung to: the potential for surgery to relieve the pressure on his spine, which would give him a chance to play again. But even then, there would be no guarantees.

Shortly after the diagnosis, the coronavirus pandemic shut down campus and Ross went back home to Alabama. He continued to work out, telling himself the doctors would realize they made a mistake, that he was fine, that he did not need surgery. The hit he took that started all this was nothing compared to harder hits in his career, and nothing had ever happened to him.

Reality said something different. Over the next several weeks, multiple neurosurgeons told Ross they would not clear him to play football, saying the risks including paralysis or even death. Despite that, Ross pressed forward trying to save his career.

Ross’ condition, Klippel-Feil syndrome, isn’t curable.  He and his family became convinced that it was treatable, though.

“Dr. Okonkwo is very confident in what he says, he’s very knowledgeable about his work, so he made us feel comfortable when we met him,” Franklin said. “He never made me feel like he had any doubt in what he could do. So that’s where we got the confidence that OK, we can go ahead and do this.”

Ross had the surgery in June 2020. Okonkwo removed a disc that was pushing backward to free up space for the spinal cord, leaving behind a graft and plate to hold everything together.

“The procedure itself is a very common procedure, but this procedure for this specific reason is very rare,” Okonkwo said. “It is virtually unique to have done this surgery in someone with Klippel-Feil syndrome, who happens to be one of the most talented football players in the United States of America.

It’s that “who happens to be” part where it starts feeling a little creepy.  And speaking of creepy,

Swinney and chief of football administration Woody McCorvey flew to Pittsburgh to be with Ross and his mother, then spoke with Okonkwo afterward.

“I asked him, ‘How did the surgery go?'” Swinney said. “I said, ‘Did you go 9-3 or 6-6? He said, ‘I went 15-0.’ And I said, ‘Well, I like that answer.'”

But Okonkwo also cautioned Swinney, telling him even if Ross did everything right, there was still a chance he wouldn’t be able to play.

Well, Ross did play last season for Clemson, finishing with team highs in catches (46) and receiving yards (514).  All that led him to being projected as a mid-round pick in the NFL draft.  As it turned out, not only was Ross not drafted, he also hasn’t been offered a free agent contract by any team.  Which leads to the uneasy conclusion that NFL teams are more concerned about his health than Clemson or Ross are.

Look, I’m not saying there are any bad people here.  A pro football career was Justyn Ross’ ticket to supporting himself and his family after school and Dabo Swinney is being paid big bucks to win games, something a contributing Ross would help achieve.  It’s clear that plenty of due diligence was done before allowing Ross to play and, in the end, it was his call to make.  Or was it?  The NFL is more of a business than is Clemson, or at least that’s what we’re supposed to think, and it’s a little sad to consider that Clemson was willing to go where 32 other teams don’t appear to be.


UPDATE:  Weirdly enough, this makes me feel slightly better.

I hope everyone involved knows what they’re doing.


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, The Body Is A Temple, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Go home, FPI. You’re drunk.

I don’t care what anyone says.  Preseason or not, any computer with a projection that has Auburn — Auburn! — as the nation’s tenth best team needs to be stripped down completely and re-programmed.

That being said, if I’m forced to take FPI seriously, it’s worth noting that it only finds four teams with better than a 10% chance of making the playoffs.  Look for that fun stat to make a steady appearance in opinion columns about Why We Need CFP Expansion NOW! near you.

Even more interesting to me, though, is that Georgia, despite being in a much tougher conference and having to factor co-existence with Alabama into the equation, is seen as having a significantly better chance of making and winning the playoffs than does Clemson.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Filling shoes at Clemson

Over at The Athletic, both Stewart Mandel ($$) and Bruce Feldman ($$) now rank Kirby Smart third on their respective Top 25 Coaches Lists.  Number One is obvious.  Number Two for both is Dabo Swinney, whom Smart bested last season.

I’m not here to mock the choice.  After all, as Feldman put it, “The Tigers just had a really down year and still won 10 games and finished No. 14 in the AP Top 25. Before that, Swinney led them two two national titles and six top four finishes in the past six seasons.”  Not exactly chopped liver, that.

It’s easy at times to throw snark in Dabo’s direction, but to give credit where credit is due, he has been an elite program manager.  He’s had remarkable staff stability over time and maximized returns from recruiting perhaps better than any other head coach in the country.

But… (you knew a “but” was coming, right?) he’s facing a big challenge in 2022.

After years of being mentioned as a potential target for head coaching positions, defensive coordinator Brent Venables was hired by Oklahoma to replace Lincoln Riley. Venables arrived at Clemson in 2012, and by 2014, he had the Tigers checking in as one of the best defensive units in the country. Swinney’s choice to fill the vacancy left by Venables came from internal options with Wes Goodwin being elevated to the position after 11 years in off-field roles across two stints. Goodwin will be the co-defensive coordinator along with Mickey Conn, who has served as both safeties coach and special teams coordinator since first joining Swinney’s staff in 2017. Another notable defensive adjustment was the hire of Nick Eason, a former All-ACC standout at Clemson, as defensive tackles coach to replace Todd Bates, who left with Venables for Oklahoma.

Tony Elliott similarly had been mentioned as a potential candidate for power conference jobs in the past, so it came as no surprise when he was introduced as the next coach for Virginia. Elliott is the third offensive coordinator since 2014 to leave Clemson for a head coaching position, and just like the previous instances, Swinney has elected to promote from within, elevating quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter to the OC role. The pipeline of home-grown coaching talent again provided for Clemson, as Thomas Austin moves into an on-field role overseeing the offensive line with longtime assistant Robbie Caldwell transitioning into an administrative role. Kyle Richardson, a member of the support staff from 2016-21 and a three-time state champion as a high school coach in South Carolina, takes over tight ends and serves as passing game coordinator.

That is one helluva bet to place on your program’s culture.  Sitting here right now, though, who’s to say Dabo’s right or wrong about that?  After all, he should know his own folks better than anyone on the outside does.  But, boy, does this have a certain potential to be a giant swing and miss.

Let’s just say I’ll be interested to see those two coaching lists next year.


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake