CLEMSON—Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has never been one to mince words when someone does something that he doesn’t agree with.
Whether rankings, or the media, paying players or even the strength of the ACC—Swinney has never shied away from letting his opinion be heard. And that is certainly the case with regards to the comprehensive package of rules changes that the NCAA Division I board of directors passed last month.
The package included sweeping changes to early official visits, pushed the hiring of a 10th on-field coach to Jan. 9, 2018 and, among other things, prohibits high school coaches from working summer football camps and attending football clinics if their respective high school has a player that the college is recruiting or being hired at a school for a two-year period before and after the student-athletes anticipated date of enrollment.
“It’s disappointing. You know, the biggest thing to me was how it impacted the high school coaches,” Swinney said of the legislation. “When it comes to camps or guys having opportunities to move into college—this has really, really restricted that opportunity in my opinion. So, that’s the biggest issue that I have.”
For Swinney and the Clemson program, that had more than 4,000 campers, first through 12th grade, attend their football camps just a few weeks ago, the lack of outside help that will be available to the Tigers’ coaching staff is something that they had to adjust to.
“There is just a lot to manage with the amount of numbers we get for camp,” Swinney said. “there are some schools where it is just not that big of a deal. But for us, it is a huge deal.”
While Swinney agrees with a lot of the rules that were enacted by the board of directors, he believes that this one, in particular, is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
The majority of college coaches who are simply looking to help high school coaches, and who do things the right way are being punished for the transgressions of a few coaches who have twisted the rules.
“We don’t run combines. We coach football,” Swinney said. “I have unbelievable relationships with high school coaches who don’t have a prospect and probably never will have a prospect, and man they come and work our camp every summer, and it’s one of the things they love to do. And now they can’t do that?
“Because you have some people who don’t do things the right way. There are other ways to say, OK, you can only pay them so much. That’s what we do—we pay them all the same. Just do things the right way and enforce the rules that are in place. It’s disappointing.”
While the coaching staff will have to rethink who they allow to work their camps as their brand and recruiting net continues to widen following their national championship victory, Swinney made it clear that there are some areas of new rules package which he likes.
But at the end of the day, it was an “all or nothing” deal that ultimately led to the changes.
“Some of the stuff was great. I think, as coaches, we all love. But it was a situation where you couldn’t break anything out—it was all or nothing,” Swinney said. “It is what it is. I certainly made my opinion know…So, you’ve got to make it work.”