CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney was out by Memorial Stadium on Wednesday afternoon taking some photos by Howard's Rock at the stadium's entrance, when his phone buzzed.
It was a text message from Clemson's director of recruiting and external affairs, Thad Turnipseed, and in the message's contents was a dose of news.
On Wednesday, the NCAA passed a substantial rule change that now allows college football players to play in up to four games of a given season without losing their redshirt status. Turnipseed wanted to know if Swinney had seen it.
Clemson's football coach had not.
But it is safe to say he is thrilled.
"That's awesome," he said. "I mean, are you kidding me?"
He's likely not alone.
The new rule is significant for college programs in that it gives coaches so much more flexibility now in terms of injured athletes or young players that might not be ready to play a full season from a developmental process, yet who still are looking to get their feet wet.
"Maybe it's a home game or something and you get an opportunity to get them a little bit of experience," he said. "Or maybe you've got a guy that's just not ready but also maybe had a couple of injuries and by the end of the year, maybe you've got three games left and the guy can play and finish it out and not lose a whole year of eligibility.
"Maybe something in the bowl situation, where maybe you've gotten injuries or whatever and you're down on your depth and here's a kid that maybe hasn't played all year ... I think it's great."
The new redshirt rule, had it been in effect in 2017 for example, would have done wonders depth-wise for a Clemson team that had some youth it decided to hold back. Chase Brice, the scout team quarterback for all of 2017 who redshirted right out of the gate, could have gotten his feet wet against live, opposing competition to prepare him for this year. The same could have gone for offensive linemen like Blake Vinson and Matt Bockhorst or defensive prospects like Jordan Williams, LeAthony Williams or Logan Rudolph, who struggled with a shoulder injury.
Additionally, the NCAA passed a new rule Wednesday that does not allow schools to limit where its players are allowed to transfer in the future. It used to be that schools could potentially block a transfer if a student wanted to go to a rival school or to a program on the upcoming season's schedule. That is not the case anymore. Any of Swinney's players can transfer to any school in the country with an unconditional release starting this season.
"I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact," Swinney said. "They don’t have to come and ask you, they just go. But usually they don’t ask you anyway. They already know where they’re going before they get to that point. I don’t have a problem with it at all. It is what it is. I just focus on the ones here."
Swinney on Tee Higgins
A few days after a car dealership in Piedmont posted a photo of a car salesman and Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins posing in front of a McLaren, Swinney is reacting to the firestorm it set off on social media. The picture, which Clemson says was taken out of context, was questioned by many as a potential NCAA violation. The photo made it seem as if Higgins was there to buy the car, which costs around $200,000.
But Higgins did not buy that car, or any car there, both Clemson and his mother said.
Swinney reacted to the drama the post — which has been taken down — created.
"That's the world we live in. It is what it is. I think everything’s an opportunity to learn. He’s one of the best kids that you’ll ever have and be around and it just kind of comes with the territory," Swinney said. "You learn from it, but obviously there’s a lot of what do you call it — fish bait? Or click bait? Isn’t that what they call it, click bait? Trying to get some story.
"That’s just the world that we live in. So you’ve got to be smart and hope that you can just avoid those types of situations that create false perceptions. But as long as you do what’s right, you ain’t gotta worry about it."