Dabo Swinney: If they want to 'professionalize' college athletics, 'maybe I'll go to the pros'
The contract extension Dabo Swinney just signed with Clemson was just $7 million short of nine figures. Yet, he still has an issue with “professionalizing” college sports.
The coach of the defending national champions has staunchly been against the idea of college football players getting paid. Now that Swinney has gotten paid more than any coach in college football history, his opinion on players getting a piece of the college football revenue pie apparently hasn’t changed either.
In an interview with ESPN.com, Swinney discussed and downplayed the idea that he could go back to Alabama, where he played and was an assistant, whenever Alabama coach Nick Saban hangs it up. He then said nothing was guaranteed when it came to the future of college football or his future at Clemson.
"Who knows what's going to happen down the road? I have no idea," Swinney said. "I just try to be great where my feet are. That's my focus every day. Who knows? They may do away with college football in three years. There may be no college football. They may want to professionalize college athletics. Well, then, maybe I'll go to the pros. If I'm going to coach pro football, I might as well do that. I may get a terrible president or a terrible AD one day. I don't know. I have no idea what's down the road. But I know what we have at Clemson is special, and I wanted to make a commitment to the university. That's what the message of the contract was."
It’s not the first time that Swinney has used the term “professionalize college athletics.” He got roasted by comedian John Oliver for his stance against paying players back in 2015.
“As far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that’s where you lose me,” Swinney said four years ago. “I’ll go do something else because there’s enough entitlement in this world as there is.”
Swinney’s $93 million contract over 10 years eclipsed Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher’s 10-year, $75 million deal for the richest in total value for a college football coach. If any coach in college football deserves a deal over $90 million — and you can reasonably argue none of them do — Swinney is on the short list of candidates. The Tigers have turned into a powerhouse under his watch with two national titles in the last three seasons and appearances in the national title game in three of the last four seasons.
But those players who have brought Clemson success deserve to be paid too. After all, they’re the ones performing on the field to help Clemson and Swinney rake in millions upon millions of dollars. But because Clemson (or anyone else) aren’t allowed to pay them because of the NCAA’s outdated rules on amateurism, Swinney rakes in even more cash instead.
The NCAA is at least saying it will take a look at allowing players to retain their image rights. But, in true NCAA form, any action on likenesses and image rights probably isn’t coming anytime soon.
There isn’t nearly enough entitlement in the world of college sports and it’s disappointing that Swinney doesn’t realize that. He could be a needed voice of change. Though given that large contract extension, you can see why he’s totally fine with the status quo.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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