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Dabo Swinney: “COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game”

The Clemson coach spoke to media on Sunday, blaming FSU’s administration for the game’s postponement

Clemson v Notre Dame Photo by Matt Cashore-Pool/Getty Images

All quotes via Grace Raynor of The Athletic and David Hale of ESPN

Speaking with the media Sunday night, Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney blamed the Florida State administration for the postponement of Saturday’s FSU vs. Clemson game.

“This game was not canceled because of COVID,” Swinney said. “COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game. I have no doubt their players wanted to play and would have played. And same with the coaches. To me, the Florida State administration forfeited the game.”

“If FSU wants to play Clemson, they can home to Death Valley. Or they can pay for Clemson’s travel.”

On Friday, a Clemson offensive lineman who practiced all week and exhibited symptoms tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting a discussion between the two schools and ACC officials on whether to play the game. The Tigers did meet the minimum standards laid out by the ACC, but protocols allow for a team to request a delay of playing the game if they don’t feel comfortable. FSU’s medical staff, concerned that the student-athlete plays a position in close proximity to others as well as traveled with the team, felt uncomfortable placing their own players in that situation and declined to play.

Of course, given that the disease last longer than two days, the same level of uncomfortableness would apply to games played either Sunday or Monday.

“So now we’re changing the rules? You either trust the test or you don’t,” Swinney continued. “If the test is negative, we’re going to tell guys they can’t play anyway? That’s why we test. If a guy has an ear ache or a runny nose and tests negative all week, and we’re going to say we won’t take you? You either trust the test or you don’t and the rules are what they are. There’s been plenty of games played this year where guys were not positive one week and positive the next week. This is a virus. We all know what we’re dealing with. The bottom line is the rules were put in play for everyone and we more than met the standard.”

“In my opinion they forfeited the game. That’s $300,000 that’s gone out the window. ... If the standard to play was zero positive tests, we never would’ve had a season.”

Florida State, according to the school, hasn’t had a positive test since Mike Norvell’s in September before facing off against Miami (a game not cancelled or postponed.) It has been without several coaches and players at different points in the season because those players have exhibited symptoms and has taken the precaution of not bringing them along.

“There was discussion [Friday] night about results from the tests that were had yesterday,” he said during an interview on ESPN’s College Gameday. “I know the medical advisers were able to go back and forth with that and I could tell you that within our program throughout this whole season there has been strict policies and procedures in place. We have had players and coaches miss games due to even just showing symptoms, who at later dates came back with negative tests. But we are all about building the trust and understanding to keep our players safe. I can tell you that we woke up this morning ready to play this game. When I was asked, that’s what I expressed to our advisers, that we were ready to play the game. They went through the proper procedures and protocols that we have and the decision was made to postpone it.”