Swinney 'Hates' Players Skipping Bowl Games

Zach Lentz

This past bowl season,  21 star players have made the decision not to participate in their teams' bowl games and use the time to begin preparing for the NFL Draft.

The number grew by eight over the 2018 season, when 13 players chose to sit out of their team's bowl games.

Asked to give his opinion on players leaving early, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made it clear how he feels about players leaving early — he hates it.

“As a coach, if you don't want to play, then don't play,” Swinney said. “Let me know who wants to play and let's go play. Now, my opinion is I hate it. I don't like that. People say, 'Oh you are the coach and make all that money.' Bull crap. Listen, my thing is I don't choose to live my life that way.”

While most players choosing to sit out the bowl games do so because of fear of injury and the risk of hurting their draft stock, Swinney does not believe that is a reason to leave your team.

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Coach Dabo Swinney

“I just personally, as a man of faith, don’t think you can walk around in bubble wrap,” Swinney said. “I think God’s will is going to be done in your life. That is just my opinion.

"Personally, I choose to play. Otherwise, why even play your whole senior year? You can get hurt in anything. You can get hurt in a car. In fact, you have better odds of getting hurt in a car than you do playing in a football game.”

Swinney believes the epidemic of players leaving early is a result of the current playoff format, where only four teams are playing for the ultimate prize, thereby decreasing the perceived importance of the other 40 bowls games.

“(Players leaving) is also a product of the playoff,” Swinney said. “Before the playoff, you didn't see that. Now the playoff comes along and guys are like, 'Well, I am not in the final four.' That's an unintended consequence to the playoff system. And not everybody is a first-rounder. Listen, I get it. I understand.”

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Dabo Swinney; Trevor Lawrence

Swinney is not naive about the issue, knowing his Tigers have benefited from being in the playoff each of the last four seasons, meaning he has not had to deal with players choosing to sit out.

But if and when that day comes for early exits, while he will not agree with the decision by a player, he will get the next guy ready.

“I want to know who's all in,” Swinney said. “I want to know who really wants to play as opposed to kind of being half in and not really wanting to play. I don't think that's fair. Hey, let me know so I can get the next guy ready. Don't show up and play in the game if you're not 100 percent committed to it.

“If we've got anybody that doesn't want to play, then love on them and pat them on the butt and wish them well and let's go get the next guy ready.”