The latest college football coach to weigh in with predictions on whether the season will begin as scheduled in August and September or not is Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney, and boy, did he deliver quite the quotes. In a conference call with reporters, Swinney sounded like a bad wartime propaganda film with his commentary on kicking the COVID-19 coronavirus “right in the teeth.” Some quotes, via Dean Straka of 247 Sports:
“Oh absolutely. My preference is let’s get to work and let’s go play.” Swinney told local reporters via Zoom. “That’s the best-case scenario and I think that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t have any doubt… I mean I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing. The stands are going to be packed and the Valley is going to be rocking. zero doubt. That’s the only thought I have, right there. All that rest of the stuff, I don’t think about any of that.
“… I got one plan, and that is to get the Tigers ready to play come September or late August or whatever. These guys are all training. So that’s my preferences that we, you know, have camp August and and get on and play the season. I don’t have any doubt that’s going to be the case. I have zero doubt.”
“I mean, this is America, man. We’ve stormed the beaches of Normandy, we’ve sent a car that’s driven around Mars, we’ve walked on the moon. This is the greatest country and the greatest people in the history of the planet. We’ve created an iPhone where I can sit here and talk to all you people in all these different places. We got the smartest people in the world. Listen, we’re going to rise up and we’re gonna kick this thing right in the teeth and we’ll get back to our lives.”
Swinney is correct with what he says later that “September is a long time away,” and there haven’t been a lot of events that far out canceled yet. However, there are certainly some reasons for skepticism that sports will resume as normal then, with even NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills talking this week about how it’s too soon to say that for sure, and particularly stating that “we’re going to have positive cases for a very long time”:
This quote from NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, is pretty telling of the future for all pro sports (via NFL) pic.twitter.com/GDUSpvMXMH
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) April 3, 2020
But beyond that, it’s the rhetoric Swinney is cranking up here that’s particularly absurd. Beyond the American exceptionalism of “this is the greatest country and the greatest people in the history of the planet,” the lines of “storming the beaches of Normandy” (also done by the British, the Canadians and the free French), “creating an iPhone” (actually manufactured in China and elsewhere) and more don’t exactly bear a lot of correlation to fighting a virus. And you can’t actually kick a virus in the teeth. (At least he didn’t directly bring up Hitler, something we’ve seen way too much in college football.)
Swinney may be paid an average of $9.3 million a year, the most in college football, but he is not a doctor or an infectious disease expert, and he’s making that very clear with his comments here. (Brian Kelly probably isn’t going to yell at him for that, though, because unlike the remarks from Kirk Herbstreit, Swinney’s comments are in line with what Kelly wants to happen.) Maybe college football will resume in August or maybe it won’t, but even if it does, it won’t be because Swinney gave a speech about kicking a virus in the teeth.