Every now and then there’s a national story that splits our country in half with vicious online bickering.
And no, I’m not getting political in the sports section. There’s enough of that back-and-forth theater on Twitter to keep you scrolling for weeks.
The national story I’m referring to is Dabo Swinney, Kelly Bryant and a national championship ring Swinney felt Bryant didn’t deserve.
To catch you up to speed, Bryant played in four games last year. With the recent changes regarding transfers, college football players can play in four games and still redshirt.
Therefore, he could retain one year of eligibility should he choose to transfer. Swinney told Bryant after his fourth game that he would name Lawrence the starter.
So rather than lead Bryant on and make him feel he’s still competing to be the starter, Swinney did Bryant a favor and told him the honest truth. Bryant took the information and decided he would leave the team and transfer. So now he’ll be a senior for the Missouri Tigers this season after he left Clemson following the Georgia Tech victory on Sept. 22, 2018.
Clemson wins the title, and Bryant doesn’t get a ring.
As you could imagine, outrage culture took over.
One side claims this is yet another example of “trophyville.” Participation trophies are handed out like bulletins at church, so I already leaned more toward this side.
The other side questioned if Clemson would have a national championship ring without Bryant. And the Texas A&M game is the argument.
Trevor Lawrence was 5-of-9 for 93 yards and a score, but Bryant had the hot hand.
Bryant completed 12-of-17 for 205 yards and a score.
Does Clemson win 28-26 without Bryant?
And others will point to the NFL argument, saying sometimes players who were cut from a championship team ultimately get a Super Bowl ring in the end. But that’s the NFL. In high school, remind me again, do players who quit championship teams in the middle of the year get state championship rings? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Here’s where I ultimately land. I side with Swinney, though it could potentially hurt him in recruiting. College coaches are strategic when it comes to garnering these 5-star athletes.
Don’t you think opposing coaches will bring this up to recruits on their next visit? You can make the argument that Swinney doesn’t care enough about his former players, albeit it’s a ludicrous one to make from this story.
In spite of that, Swinney stuck by his guns. Swinney felt Bryant walked out on his teammates and didn’t deserve a championship ring for playing elsewhere.
Just like many of us couldn’t blame Bryant for wanting to continue his college career elsewhere — you know, where he would actually start — we also can’t knock Swinney for rewarding the guys who put the hard work in last winter.