Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has been a vocal critic of proposals to professionalize college football, and during his National Signing Day press conference Wednesday, he railed against a recent push to allow players to transfer without penalty.
“You look at what’s on the table now is free agency and total chaos,” Swinney said of a currently tabled proposal that would allow players to move between schools prior to graduation without sitting out a year.
Swinney, who has been staunchly against paying players as well, said he believes part of the college football experience involves pushing players, even if they’re not immediately successful, and an open transfer rule would undermine that goal. Still, Swinney acknowledged the elephant in the room surrounding the debate – the fact that coaches earn millions and can abruptly leave a program without penalty.
“What we’re trying to create is no consequences,” Swinney said. “We want a society with no consequences. OK, everybody says this coach makes a lot of money or that coach makes a lot of money. Somebody’s getting paid a lot of money, too. There’s consequences. There’s buyouts. There should be consequences. You deal with young people, sometimes young people need to learn how to hang in there a little bit.”
Perhaps more problematic, Swinney said, would be the ripple effects created by such a rule.
“You’ll have a lot of bad things happening,” Swinney said. “Right now, the NFL has college scouts, but they also have an entire NFL scouting department where they’re just studying players from other teams, and that’s what’ll happen in college. That’s exactly what’ll happen. They’ll be paying attention to, well, Johnny didn’t play this week, so let me make that call to him.”
This is already a concern among many coaches with regards to the existing graduate transfer rule, and Swinney believes poaching of players from other programs would become a widespread practice, with schools recruiting players from other teams, and assistant coaches offering to push players to follow them to a new job.
“I understand there needs to be some changes, needs to be some modernization,” Swinney said. “But we’ve got to find the right balance. We can’t go from here to here. There has to be a right balance that’s good for everyone.”