clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Clemson University Coach Dabo Swinney--Who Is Against Player Compensation--Gets PAID.

Let's revisit that unfortunate thing Dabo Swinney said that one time in light of his shiny new $30 million dollar contract.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney has signed a new deal with his institution, which will pay him north of $30 million dollars over the next six seasons, making him a member of the 10 highest paid coaches club. His buyout starts at $20 million a year, which is quite the incentive to stick around.

That incentive philosophy is also one that Dabo and Clemson share with their coordinators--Offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott will make a combined $1.25 million in 2016 (just shy of the $1.3 million former OC Chad Morris made in 2014 before he was lured away to his head coaching position at SMU) and Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables will collect a cool $1.425 million this year. Clemson has one of the highest coaching salary pools in college football. Compensation that is designed specifically to keep them from taking their talents to a power 5 school that might yield a marquee HC position in the future.

This is newsworthy because Ole Dabo is on record as being against compensating players in kind, saying in 2014:

"We try to teach our guys, use football to create the opportunities. Take advantage of the platform and the brand and the marketing you have available to you. But as far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that's where you lose me. I'll go do something else, because there's enough entitlement in this world as it is."

In his defense (and before the comment section erupts with Clem(p)son pay to play deniers), he has also claimed to be in support of stipends, which is nice, but the value of a stipend pales in comparison to the compensation of the coaches they were recruited by and play for.

In contrast, what do his recruits get to incentivize them against signing with top-tier programs and making it harder to run a successful football program? Starting time? A whisper of a chance at a professional sporting career with an average lifespan of less than 3 three years? A minimum and average salary that trails behind other Major League sports like the NBA, MLB, and even the NHL? A lifelong struggle with the side effects of traumatic brain injuries?

It's true what defenders of the system say: an academic scholarship is absolutely a precious commodity. In 2016 it may have more value than ever, due to the rising costs of a college education and the widening gap between what an undergraduate education was worth 25 years ago versus today's entry level job market.

It's also a giant red herring that the NCAA arm their well-paid heels with in order to justify the existence of their human commodities market and attempt to qualify as amateur sports.

College coaches like Dabo Swinney defend the status quo by proclaiming the sanctity of a college scholarship. The true hypocrisy is that college football coaches don't recruit you based on a scholarship.  They recruit 4- and 5-star players based on empty promises of NFL readiness and all the vacuous sureties such a goal entails. It's akin to Buzz Aldrin promising a class of kindergartners that they, too, can grow up to be astronauts if they just dream big and grey shirt with NASA at age 14! As if any crayon-fisted six year-old who wants to grow up to be just like Aaron Rodgers can Just Do It! when he grows up, mommy.

Your parents may or may not help you temper those dreams in light of reality, but NCAA football coaches are paid to lie to you, and they're paid very handsomely.

"Sign with us and you might get first round money. You might otherwise achieve your dream of playing in the NFL. You probably won't, but you'll make me very rich if you try it in this orange uniform."

Dabo wasn't a star recruit. He wasn't even a recruit as he tells it. Athletic and talented enough to walk-on at Alabama and eventually get on scholarship, but still a student who left college with student loans. He justifies the NCAA's student athlete trafficking operation and his $4 million dollar paycheck by comparing it to his college experience, and he calls it a blessing.

I'd like to hear him address that question today, in light of the monetary blessings that have been showered upon him, and that he has in return showered upon the coaches who helped him get to where he is. Because the trickle down has a hard stop, and his players aren't getting a piece of that action.