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Great Debate: Is Swinney Optimistic or Tone Deaf?

It should come as no surprise that his, sometimes, overly optimistic outlook on things has placed Swinney at odds with some of the national media when it comes to his belief that college football will be played this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

No one will ever accuse Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney of being a pessimist. In fact, Swinney's glass half full attitude has given rise to many famous sayings:

  1. “To be an overachiever you have to be an over-believer.”
  2. "We’re the rednecks who moved into the nice neighborhood, but we belong.”
  3.  “Let the light that shines in you be brighter than the light that shines on you.”
  4. "Don't let anyone walk through your mind with dirty feet."
  5. "B.Y.O.G." (Bring your own guts.)

It should come as no surprise that his, sometimes, overly optimistic outlook on things has placed Swinney at odds with some of the national media when it comes to his belief that college football will be played this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"My preference is let's get to work and let's go play," Swinney said Friday. "That's the best-case scenario and I think that's what's going to happen. I have zero doubt that we're going to be playing. The stands are going to be packed and the Valley is going to be rocking. I don't have any doubt. That's the only thought I have."

"I've got one plan, and that is to get the Tigers ready to play come late August," Swinney added. "This is America, man. We've stormed the beaches of Normandy. We've driven a car on Mars. We've walked the moon. We have the smartest people in the world. We are going to rise up and we're going to kick this thing right in the teeth and get back to our lives." 

It did not take long for people to jump on the ever-optomistic Swinney.

'When there is no college football in 2020, it will be in part because too many people acted like Dabo Swinney for too long and didn’t listen to experts. Remember that, not his lil speech about Normandy and iPhones," Alex Kirshner of Banner Society wrote on Twitter.

Former Kansas State president, Jon Wefald has told Paul Finebaum on Friday that if there's no vaccine for COVID-19 by July, there's like not going to be football this fall.

CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is anticipating a vaccine sometime in 2021.

This feeling that the football season could be in danger was echoed by USA Today's Dan Wolken, who, ever since Swinney's record-setting $93 million contract was signed last year, has seemingly had Swinney in his crosshairs.

"Dabo's theory is based on a number of evidence-free assertions, but hey, Dabo is Dabo. I'm not living on that same planet he is," Wolken said in a Twitter post.

Wolken and Wefald are not the only ones standing on opposite sides of the optimism fence. Last week, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit stated that, unless a vaccine was ready for use, he did not see a way that football can be played.



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“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens,” Herbstreit said. “Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.

"Next thing you know you got a locker room full of guys that are sick. And that’s on your watch? I wouldn’t want to have that ... As much as I hate to say it, I think we're scratching the surface of where this thing's gonna go."

However, it was not only Herbstreit that has doubts about whether or not football will be played this fall. Former Clemson football SID and current color analyst for the Clemson Tiger Radio Network Tim Bourret shared his thoughts on Twitter Mar. 27.

"Watching press conference. Sen. Lindsey Graham has repeatedly said the Coronavirus will return in fall," Bourret wrote. "If that is case, I dont [sic] see any college football this fall, even if some businesses open up in summer. How can you start season in Sept knowing virus will return in Nov?"

Bourret doubled-down Friday.

"At the end of the day, whether or not we have a college football season will be determined by whatever the NFL decides," Bourret wrote on Twitter. "College basketball followed the NBA 12 hours later. Anyone think we would have college football games if NFL shut down?"

While Swinney is seemingly at odds with his former SID and other media outlets about his overly optimistic belief that football will be played, there was a final victory for those who believe that Swinney is tone-deaf to the seriousness of the crisis.

Swinney stated that he not only was not sheltering in place, which is not required by law in South Carolina as of yet, nor was he staying home. In fact, Swinney took a private jet to Florida and may do so again for the Easter holiday.

Swinney added that he was not worried about his safety, as the plane was '"sanitized." But that is not the issue for many in the media.

"Giving a cutesy speech about how we’re gonna play football this year because MERICA, then going off and unnecessarily endangering lives. Just amazing work by Dabo Swinney," Kirshner wrote.

Whether you believe that there will be a 2020 season in some form or fashion, or if you believe that the 151st season of college football will be held in 2021, one thing is certain — Americans are scared.

Not just that there won't be a football season, but that they won't be able to feed their families. That they won't be able to buy essential items. That they won't be able to leave their house without a mask. Those fears are all real, and all valid. Football will eventually return, either in 2020 or 2021. 

And when that day comes Swinney will be right about one thing, there will be a "big old party."