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All the Stupid Shit Dabo Swinney Has Said, Ranked

Swinney is fairly consistently sounding off about all kinds of bullshit that he doesn't understand.
"Hey, kids. You like jokes? Well, get a load of this one...." Photo by David Wallace—USA TODAY Sports

Clemson's Dabo Swinney is doubtlessly a very good football coach and a goofy dude who makes (maybe some) people laugh. He also has downright terrible opinions on hand for ready disposal. Not just the occasional bad take that makes you say, "hmm, thought I knew this guy." Rather, he is fairly consistently sounding off about all kinds of bullshit.

Swinney tends to litter his thoughts about lots of subjects on which he's done little-to-no homework—race, player pay, etc.—despite living safe inside his Bio-Dome-like college football bubble. So, with all of college football rankings set—and now that we're in the College Football Playoffs—here are his worst takes, ranked for your pleasure:


8. "I don't think it's good to be a distraction to your team, to use the team as the platform. I totally disagree with that. I just think (kneeling for the national anthem) creates more divisiveness, more division." (Sep. 13, 2016)

This is a bad take—but also a bad take that Swinney shares with a lot of football coaches, so he's not unique in this terrible opinion.

For what it's worth, the first player to kneel for the anthem, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, was voted the "most inspirational and courageous" player on the 49ers by his teammates.

7. On whether players would hide concussions: "Just the opposite … the game is safer than it's ever been." (Oct. 25, 2016)

This is 100 percent false. Just factor in that 26 of 27 concussions in college football are likely unreported.

6. "Kyrin Priester has been dismissed from the team for an attitude that is not acceptable to our standards." (Sep. 3, 2014)

Despite believing that his players are not employees (see below), and agreeing with the NCAA that players are primarily students, Swinney kicked a player off his team for having a bad attitude. Not anything concrete—just having a bad attitude.

5. "I don't want to be persecuted for (my religious beliefs) and I don't try to persecute somebody else because they have different beliefs." (Dec. 25, 2015)

This takes a bit more explaining. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a complaint to Clemson in 2014 because religion was way too indoctrinated in the football program. Swinney even baptized a player on the field in an animal trough. The foundation just asked that Clemson not make religion such a big part of the program at a public university.


That is what Swinney considered to be "persecution." He also said this: "I try to be who I am. I try to be transparent. I try to live my life in a way that I hope is pleasing to my maker," Swinney said. "As a program, we try to challenge these guys to be the best that they can be every day."

Basically, 'players know what they're getting into' is the best excuse he's got. But the point of the FFRF and the point of separating church and public education is that religion shouldn't have to be a consideration for a student picking a public school.

Sorry, Dabo. Telling a public school coach to not baptize players on the field is not 'persecution.'

4. The only curse words allowed by Clemson players are ass, damn and hell because those words are in the Bible. (Dec. 30, 2015)

Ironically, those words have completely different meanings in the Bible and in the present day, but Dabo Swinney has never been one for nuance. Again, fuck that shit (sorry Dabo—am I cut?).

3. On college football players forming unions: "I have no idea. I really don't know enough about it to comment."

Immediately afterward: "College athletics would go away." (Apr. 13, 2014)

He was right initially.

2. "As far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that's where you lose me. I'll go do something else, because there's enough entitlement in this world as it is." (Apr. 13, 2014)

Psst. Here's a secret: (Mostly black) college athletes are kept poor to fill the pockets of (mostly white) administrators. Many athletes don't get real degrees. But Swinney, who makes $4.5 million per year, thinks that any athlete who asks for money is entitled.


On the plus side, this quote made Swinney's bad takes go national, as comedian John Oliver referred to him by the anagram "Soybean Wind."

1. "It's so easy to say we have a race problem, but we got a sin problem." (Sep. 13, 2016)

Well, this just about bad takes the cake. As a noted race relations expert, Swinney said that issues of police brutality and discrimination in the country had nothing to do with race, but in fact only happened because of sin. This is, of course, as wrong as it gets, and Swinney eventually apologized.

The take got even worse, though: Swinney also claimed that Martin Luther King would protest police brutality, not through kneeling for the national anthem, but through Jesus:

"There's more good than bad in this world … (King) he changed the world through Jesus. Boy, that's politically incorrect. That's what he did. It's amazing when we don't learn from our past how you can repeat your mistakes."

As a Clemson professor noted, King actually made his mark through actions that made bold statements, and he was angered by "white moderates" who wanted different messaging.

It's easy to say we have a race problem—because we have a racism problem. Dabo Swinney, on the other hand, has a take problem.