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Is Paul Finebaum right about Dabo Swinney and transfer portal?

When it comes to college football coaches facing criticism from someone employed by a mainstream media outlet, few find themselves in the crosshairs as often as Dabo Swinney does with ESPN’s Paul Finebaum.

Swinney and Clemson football in the wake of NIL and the transfer portal have remained one of Finebaum’s most frequent targets.

And on his weekly radio appearance Monday on McElroy and Cubelic on Birmingham’s WJOX-FM, Finebaum was ready to tee off again when host Cole Cubelic asked if the veteran Clemson coach’s views of the transfer portal would eventually “catch up” to Swinney.

Finebaum said they already had.

“It is catching up to him as we speak,” Finebaum intoned. “You know, forget the pundits. I know Clemson fans like to aim their arrows at all of us who pontificate about Dabo. But I’m talking about people who graduated from Clemson, people who are Clemson fans — and I run into a lot of them based on where I live [Charlotte] — and they don’t think Dabo Swinney is going to be there a long time. When I mean a long time, I mean 3-5 years. I think his time is nearly up.”

Swinney made news last week when he attempted to defend himself as the only coach of a Power Four program that hadn’t taken a single transfer via the portal this off-season. Many perceived Swinney to be doubling down on his stance of the portal.

Swinney was roundly roasted by fans and pundits alike for his comments — in particular his assertion that “most of the guys in the portal aren’t good enough to play for (Clemson).”

Finebaum has said repeatedly that he believes “Dabo’s Dynasty is done.” He referenced Clemson’s four losses a season ago, as well as their three-loss season in 2021. The Tigers made the Orange Bowl as ACC champions in 2022 but were soundly beaten by Tennessee.

“To me, he is falling so far behind. That doesn’t mean they can’t have a good program,” Finebaum said of Swinney and Clemson. “That is if you call 9-3 or 8-4 or maybe the occasional 10-2 a great program, but that’s not the same school that went to six consecutive CFP’s a couple of years ago, that played for four national championships. I think that part of it is over.

“And Dabo Swinney may think he’s smart, playing this game of how it’s going to be, but that’s not the way things are. This week is indicative of that in college football. It has changed so quickly in the last three years, and if you missed a minute, you fell behind. He missed three years, and he is way behind and he’s not catching up.”

Finebaum is a professional pot-stirrer, particularly when it comes to programs and coaches he doesn’t hold in high regard. This is one of those “known knowns,” as the late Donald Rumsfeld once famously quoted. And it’s not just Clemson; Finebaum routinely takes aim at Florida State, Miami, and a litany of Big Ten programs.

But those schools, and literally every single other Power Four program, all make use of the transfer portal to find the talent necessary to plug holes and keep their rosters finely tuned.

Swinney’s assertion that the portal lacks players good enough to play for a Clemson program that went 9-4 a year ago falls flat when national powers like Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas and others all somehow manage to find talent good enough to play for them.

It isn’t just national powers, either. ACC rivals like the Seminoles, ‘Canes, NC State, Pitt and even Notre Dame — all programs that have beaten Clemson in the past three years — manage to find talent through the portal, as well.

The portal and NIL are the new reality of college sports. If Swinney doesn’t soon recognize this, four-loss Clemson football seasons might be as well.

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire