Dabo Swinney, brainless molder of young minds

Illustration for article titled Idiot of the Year #6: Dabo Swinney, brainless molder of young minds

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Welcome to Deadspin’s IDIOT OF THE YEAR top 10! Our expert team has worked tirelessly to bring you this annual list of the sports and sports-adjacent figures who most intensely made us wish we had been shaken as infants. Here are our first 40 picks:

Think of all the stupid things college football coaches have said this year. We know, it’s a lot. Then imagine how much stupid one has to put out into the world to be the stupidest college football coach in any given year.

America, we present to you Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney, without a doubt the biggest idiot in college football this year.

There have been a lot of people in this country who don’t really “get” the COVID pandemic, how virulent it is, how serious it is. But perhaps no one got it less in 2020 than Dabo.

Given, this is the same Dabo who said he’ll quit coaching if players ever get paid (Hey Dabo, you’re currently two years into your 10-year, $93 million deal, I bet you won’t), so we’re not looking to the Clemson sidelines for good takes on anything. That said, you’d still like to see the highest paid employee in the state of South Carolina with a better grasp on a pandemic that has killed more than 336,000 Americans to date, especially when said employee is in charge of the well-being of dozens of young men.

But if you were looking to Swinney for a responsible take on COVID, you don’t know Dabo! We should have seen it coming back in April, when Dabo suggested that America could America the virus right back to where it came from:

“This is America, man. We’ve stormed the beaches of Normandy. We’ve sent a rover out on Mars and walked on the moon. 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.”

But Dabo’s 2020 coup de grace was complaining that Florida State backed out of a game against Clemson, after the Tigers let a symptomatic player practice all week, only pulling him once he tested positive for COVID. Not only did Swinney demand FSU forfeit the game and give Clemson the win, he doubled down on it repeatedly, suggesting that not wanting to subject young men to a virus that may or may not cause lasting heart damage was a sign of weakness in FSU’s game plan. Or something.

If you thought the internet dunking that Dabo took after that was going to deter him from further terrible takes, you’ll be shocked to learn that Dabo has been insisting that his team play in front of fans during the college football playoff. Here’s what he had to say about the Rose Bowl ahead of the ACC title game on December 19:

“It makes no sense to me to put a bunch of kids on a plane and fly them all the way to California to play in an empty stadium,” Swinney said, almost getting it before swerving into idiocy. “That makes zero sense to me when you have plenty of stadiums where you can have fans and, most importantly, you can have families. It should be the same for all four teams as far as the opportunity that you have. This year everybody has had to make adjustments. To me, that would be a simple one to make.”

Dabo got his way, as college football coaches always seem to do. His team will now play in the Sugar Bowl in the New Orleans Superdome, with 3,000 fans in attendance. What makes even less sense, Dabo, is forcing unpaid teenagers to continue to risk their lives long-term health in the midst of a pandemic so you can continue to make millions. In case you missed it, Louisiana is doing so well that their new congressman-elect, Luke Letlow, passed away from COVID yesterday. He was 41 years old. The situation in New Orleans itself is so dire, Mayor LaToya Cantrell is threatening to shut down bars and brewpubs as early as today if the positivity rate doesn’t drop off. What a great place for a college bowl game!

Of course, none of this matters to guys like Dabo, for whom football is the only master they serve. After all, this is a guy who “didn’t understand” why the NCAA made him give his players the day off from practice so they could vote, after all.

There are plenty of men in amateur athletics who only care about the young men and women in their charge as the means to an end. But not all of them are stupid enough to make it so blatantly obvious over and over again.

Dabo Swinney, congrats on being one of the biggest idiots of the year.

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