Dabo Swinney’s stance on the NCAA’s new redshirt rule has not changed, despite Kelly Bryant’s decision to transfer from Clemson.
The Tigers’ head coach said Wednesday night that he still in favor of the rule, which allows players to compete in up to four games without losing a season of eligibility.
“Heck yeah,” Swinney said. “I’m all for it.”
The rule, which was approved by the NCAA in June, gives coaches the flexibility to play freshmen in several games and still be able to redshirt them if so desired. It also provides college teams with more flexibility in the event of a short-term injury – for instance, if a starter goes down, a freshman could replace that player for a few games without burning his redshirt.
While the rule is beneficial for programs in multiple ways, an unintended consequence is in-season transfers. The rule gives players the ability to decide to leave a school after four games and seek a better opportunity elsewhere if they have lost out on playing time or lost a position battle, for example.
That has happened this week at several schools, including Clemson. Bryant announced Wednesday that he has opted to transfer after losing his starting quarterback job to true freshman Trevor Lawrence.
Although the rule has had a negative impact on his team, Swinney says he is still a supporter of it.
“Maybe this becomes something that people do all the time. I doubt it,” Swinney said. “But you know what, hey, it’s opportunity for these young people, and how can you be against that. It is what it is.
“So, I wish him nothing but the best. Everybody has to make their own decisions in life… Sometimes we make good ones, sometimes we make bad ones, and sometimes we don’t ever know if it’s good or bad until down the road. So, that’s just where we are.”
Swinney says the timing of his decision to name Lawrence the starter had nothing to do with the new redshirt rule, and everything to do with the fact that Lawrence earned the job with his 176-yard, four-touchdown performance in Clemson’s win at Georgia Tech last Saturday.
In other words, Swinney did not make the quarterback change after four games simply so Bryant could retain his final year of eligibility and have the opportunity to transfer – it just worked out that way, according to Swinney.
“It was totally coincidental to be honest with you. It had nothing to do with that,” Swinney said. “But I’m glad it worked out the way it did. This is just what happened Saturday. If we had a different situation on Saturday, we’re not having this discussion.
“And easily, I could have said hey, let’s just start him this week, and now he has no options and his college career is over. I would never entertain something like that. That’s not who we are. We’re going to do what’s right. I did what I think is right in making the decision. Time will tell if I did the right thing.”