Dabo Swinney, head coach of the Clemson Tigers.
Photograph: Michael Zagaris/Getty Photography

It’s an understood theory of organized sports activities that within the occasion you play for a team that wins a championship — even within the occasion you like been no longer in point of fact taking part in whereas they obtained the championship — you rep a championship ring. Championship rings are silly (they are outrageously hideous, first off; this Lakers monstrosity from 2002 appears to be esteem an Illuminati decoder ring), but they are ostensibly the arrangement of athletic endeavor. They are supposed to be why you play.

And everyone gets one. Nomar Garciaparra got one for the 2004 Red Sox even despite the indisputable truth that he became traded to the Cubs midseason, ruining Jimmy Fallon’s one compatible Saturday Night time Are residing personality; Colby Rasmus got one for the 2011 Cardinals even despite the indisputable truth that trading him is certainly why that team obtained the World Series; a man named Sergio Kindle notched one measly form out in a single measly game for the Ravens reduction in 2012, and he got one. I in point of fact like an affiliate whose long-established job became in point of fact washing the jockstraps of the 2006 Cardinals, and he got one. The joy of a championship makes one so jolly that within the kill you’re giving rings out at the holidays esteem fruitcakes.

Which is why it became so tender final week when Dabo Swinney, head coach of defending college football champion Clemson, launched that Kelly Bryant — who began four video games for the Tigers final year, collectively with a key 28-26 road victory over Texas A&M in which he threw for a touchdown and ran for one other — would no longer be receiving a championship ring. The cause: After losing the starting job to freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence, Bryant — who had graduated from college and subsequently might perchance perchance well sit out the relaxation of the season and like one extra year of eligibility in 2019 for one other team — left the team and transferred to Missouri.

On the time, each team and player seemed simpatico. Nonetheless when Clemson went on and obtained a title within the reduction of Lawrence, Swinney purposefully saved a hoop from Bryant after they like been handed out within the autumn. His reasoning became as easy because it became purposefully ignorant of decades of precedent: “He wasn’t on the team.” Nonetheless this surely neglected the reality that one of the top autonomy Bryant had — one of the top autonomy he has ever had — became in leaving the team when Swinney made up our minds no longer starting up him. If Bryant desired to showcase his skills for the NFL, he had to leave Clemson. More to the level: If he ever desired to originate any cash for the element he has dedicated his total lifestyles to, he had no different but to leave. For this, Swinney has banished him. Maybe if he’d hung around and cleaned the jocks …

As one other season of college football begins — the first game, between Miami and Florida, is honest ten days away, and this resident of Athens, Georgia, has been listening to Bulldogs coach Kirby Neat screaming expletives at the kids below Neat’s supervision on his morning jog for weeks now — it is price remembering honest how an increasing form of complex it’ll additionally additionally be to leap through your total ethical hoops wanted to dwell a fan of the game. And there’s no better example why this is so than Dabo Swinney.

Swinney is the toast of college football upright now, the man whose Tigers like obtained two championships in three seasons and who wiped out hated Gash Saban and Alabama 44-16 within the college football playoff title game in January. Swinney is continuously viewed as an affable distinction to the humorless intensity of Saban (and Neat, Saban’s protégé), a outmoded valid-estate agent and non secular Christian whose homespun sort and clear-reduce approach with a microphone has led him to be a longtime favourite of the college football press. Nonetheless as he has grown extra a hit, and the game he coaches has develop into even extra of a multibillion-greenback enterprise, that folksiness has taken on a darker tone. Because the approach you be triumphant in college athletics is by wielding energy. And no-one has extra energy than Swinney. Nonetheless unlike, affirm, Kentucky college basketball coach John Calipari, who has outmoded this energy to recommend for gamers and elevated compensation, Swinney is as retrograde as Possess Bryant. And he is certainly the face of his sport now.

When Swinney obtained the nationwide championship game in January, he became awarded better than $2 million in bonuses for the 2019 season apart from to to the $6.8 million wage he’d already earned — a wage that jumped considerably when he signed a ten-year, $92 million contract after the season. That is a fortune he has made on the backs of his unpaid gamers. To be an FBS college football coach is to reap the harvest of an unjust machine, but Swinney has long gone previous merely being complicit in this machine. As an different, he has chosen to forcefully recommend for it. He has acknowledged he will quit college football entirely if gamers rep paid, asserting that, “as some distance as paying gamers, professionalizing college athletics, that’s the build you lose me. I’ll lunge attain one thing else, because there’s ample entitlement in this world because it is.” (He openly reiterated this stance after signing that unique contract.) He has fought in opposition to gamers receiving stipends apart from to to their scholarships. When Northwestern football gamers tried to unionize about a years within the past, he became one among the loudest voices in opposition.

Swinney’s stances in opposition to player autonomy, in each college and reliable sports activities, are legendary. He criticized Colin Kaepernick’s narrate, asserting that “it’s no longer compatible to exercise the team as a platform” and that “two wrongs don’t originate a upright” whereas citing Martin Luther King Jr., one thing he later had to suppose regret for. He claimed gamers don’t fake they like concussions to elevate on the sphere and that football is “safer than it has ever been.” (Each and every statements are false.) He once kicked a player off his team — and thus out of college — for “having a unsafe perspective.” He doesn’t tolerate cursing at his practices. Oh, and endure in mind the Clemson football team’s visit to the White Home within the direction of the authorities shutdown, when President Trump gave out all that like a flash food? The Root reported that whereas most of Clemson’s dim gamers did no longer support, those that did lunge did so because they feared Swinney would punish them otherwise. (Swinney denied this, as did plenty of gamers.)

Swinney’s unsavoriness goes previous seeking to elevate care of his bear energy and profits. He has acknowledged The United States doesn’t like a “jog scenario, it has a sin scenario.” In 2016, he refused to investigate an allegation that Clemson gamers had outmoded racial slurs in opposition to South Carolina gamers, asserting he might perchance perchance well forgive college college students for making errors but no longer media for reporting on them. (He in point of fact acknowledged that the newshounds who published the allegations might perchance perchance well mute like been fired.) He has acknowledged that activists might perchance perchance well mute “transfer to 1 other nation.” He even once called himself “Osama bin Dabo,” which is originate of offensive but mostly honest routine.

College football is a sport that brings in better than a billion bucks a year and one which is below elevated public stress to articulate no longer lower than about a of that cash closer to the gamers who are placing their minds and our bodies on the line without cost per week. To this level, that cash is honest going to the heart-outdated, mostly white males ordering them around: Clemson itself has three assistants who originate better than $1 million a year. In a signal of honest how imbalanced this has develop into, for the first time, in 2018, college athletic spending for coaches outpaced spending on scholarships. It’s some distance the originate of factoid that offers up the game.

Certain, it became enjoyable to witness Clemson jog within the direction of Alabama within the nationwide title game final year. Gash Saban is such a notorious villain at this level that it became undeniably satisfying to perceive him like to use it barely bit. Nonetheless it is price noting: Of the 2 coaches on the sphere that evening, Saban is the one who believes it’s unfair now to no longer pay college gamers, no longer Swinney. Whom are we supposed to be rooting in opposition to, but again?

Clemson comes into the 2019 season because the No. 1 ranked team within the nation. There are plenty of reasons for this, however the principle one is Trevor Lawrence, the long-haired, goofy, otherworldly talented quarterback who took Bryant’s job at midseason. He is easiest a sophomore, which approach he has two extra seasons as a Tiger, per NFL draft suggestions. If he like been eligible for the draft upright now, there is no longer any interrogate he might perchance be the top overall use. Nonetheless he isn’t, so he has to set aside tens of tens of millions of future bucks on the line for 12 or extra Saturdays next season, and on the other hand the season after. If he suffers a profession-ending damage at any level within the following two years, he obtained’t ever rep a dime as a reliable athlete. Nonetheless he has to play anyway. Any individual has to originate cash for Dabo Swinney. Any individual has to make sure Dabo doesn’t quit college football. Any individual has to elevate care of minting those rings.

Dabo Swinney Is College Football’s Actual Ugly Villain