CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney, the former commercial real estate agent turned national championship football coach, knows a thing or two about business and football.
He was successful during his brief time in real estate, and in football he's had more success than any coach over the past three years, winning two national titles at Clemson.
So when Swinney brought up the topic of minor league football this week, people listened. He made it clear that he wouldn't simply be OK with it, rather he sincerely wants it to happen.
"I would love that," he said. "I wish there was some type of minor league for football so people who don't value education, they don't have to get one. Go on, play ball. Just like baseball, go play baseball. You make it to the Bigs, you make it, great. If not, then you go to college somewhere down the road.
"If you don't value education, don't go. Go to work. Go to work and if it works out, great. Have at it."
The idea of minor league football could backfire on college coaches. Many of the most talented players might skip college and go directly to the pros, just as they do in baseball.
Swinney broached the issue after being asked about recent articles suggesting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence should consider sitting out the next two seasons to protect his NFL draft stock.
Swinney acknowedged that a minor league system could pluck football players of Lawrence's caliber out of high school immediately. Clemson baseball coach Monte Lee has seen it happen.
Lee lost two prized recruits from his 2018 class. Several months after committing to the Tigers, both were selected in the MLB draft and chose to go pro.
Clemson lost out on outfielder Parker Meadows, rated the No. 43 high school baseball player in America last season, after he was drafted in the second round by the Detroit Tigers. Third baseman Charles Mack, the No. 56 player in the country, also skipped college after being drafted in the sixth round by the Minnesota Twins.
"It's tough not to think about it," Lee said. "It is a distraction."
But Swinney said minor league football might help more than hurt recruiting. It could eliminate the shadier aspects of recruiting.
"You'd cut out some of these people, some of the cheating that goes on in recruiting," Swinney said. "And again, guys that don't value education."
There has been talk in the past about forming such a league, but there's been no movement.
For now, Swinney will have to keep waiting. And in three weeks, he hits the field for spring practice with the players who are still in college looking to win another national championship.
"It wouldn't bother me a bit," he said. "There are plenty of guys out there who still want to be part of the college experience."