Leave it to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to deliver one of the more cringeworthy lines of 2022.
“We built this program on NIL. We really did. We built this program in God’s name, image and likeness,” he said at a National Signing Day news conference.
Swinney’s holier-than-thou act may work on some, but in the context of a cutthroat industry like college football, it’s disingenuous.
Swinney once railed against a system in which college athletes could earn money off their talent, stating he would consider leaving the sport.
He’s still here, a sign of him preaching one thing while doing the other. NIL deals aren’t going away, either, and unless Swinney fully commits to the new normal in college football, the Tigers could sink back into irrelevancy.
The topic of players profiting off their name, image and likeness has been the hot-button issue in college football the past couple of off-seasons.
Last year, in a conversation with ESPN’s Chris Low, Swinney responded to criticism of a system that allows coaches to make millions of dollars on the backs of student-athletes by saying a coach such as Alabama’s Nick Saban, who made $10.7 million in 2022, is underpaid. (h/t The Spun)
Saban himself was embroiled in a semi-controversy surrounding NIL deals last offseason. He accused Texas A&M of using shady tactics in acquiring the top class of 2022. When Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher shot back at Saban’s attack, he said, “Some people think they’re God,” referring to Saban’s god-like status in the sport.
If Swinney really wants to remake the Tigers in God’s image, he’d be best off choosing the one in Tuscaloosa.