Dabo: ‘Zero doubt’ college season starts on time

Amid ongoing concern and escalating coronavirus infection rates in the United States, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he remains optimistic that the college football season will start on time.

Asked his preference for how the sport might adjust to potential scheduling issues due to the pandemic, Swinney said his only focus is on players reporting to camp on time in August.

“My preference is let’s get to work and go play,” Swinney said. “That’s the best-case scenario, and I think that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t have any doubt. I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing and the stands are going to be packed.”

Swinney said he’s created a T.I.G.E.R.S. acronym for players and coaches, which he said stands for “This Is Gonna End Real Soon.” He also said he’s planning only for the most optimistic version of events, despite concerns by others that the season might be delayed or canceled.

“That’s just my mindset. I’ve got one plan, and that’s to get the Tigers ready to play in late August, early September,” Swinney said. “I’ll leave it to the smart people to figure out the doomsday scenarios. We’ve got one scenario, and that’s to run down that hill and kick it off in the valley.”

Swinney said he was optimistic players might return to campus as early as next month, even if classes remain online only. He said that if players are back by July, there’s no reason for the start date of the season to be impacted.

Swinney pointed to American ingenuity as the basis for his outlook.

“This is America, man. We’ve stormed the beaches of Normandy. We’ve sent a rover out on Mars and walked on the moon,” Swinney said. “This is the greatest country. We’ve created an iPhone where I can sit here and talk to people in all these different places. We’ve got the smartest people in the world. We’re going to rise up and kick this thing in the teeth and get back to our lives.”

Swinney said he’s confident his players have remained in good shape and would be prepared for camp, even after the extended break from on-campus work. He also suggested Clemson’s interpretation of NCAA rules meant coaches were not allowed to monitor their players’ work, despite what Alabama coach Nick Saban said his staff is doing during the crisis.

“We don’t need Apple watches to know our guys are doing the right thing,” Swinney said.

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