It took two tries for Christian Wilkins to get his fat guy touchdown against South Carolina on Saturday. The first attempt came on a third-and-goal from the two and was snuffed out by the Gamecocks defense. Dabo Swinney decided that the one-yard line was as good a place as any to go for it on fourth down, and put the ball in Wilkins’ hands again, where the 315-pound defensive tackle was a lot more successful in his efforts.
Given that it was the last home game of his college career, Wilkins celebrated the moment with a Heisman pose. The move drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and cost his team 15 yards—a stupid, albeit “correct,” call. But even more stupid was that Swinney was later caught on the sideline getting into the face of Wilkins after the celebration.
Swinney told his senior defensive tackle he’d never run the football again if he pulls ever pulls a similar stunt.
If former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson “didn’t win the Heisman, Christian is not going to win it,” Swinney said.
It’s always a good time when college coaches who are lauded for their classy behavior can put that mentality aside to run a fat guy touchdown play on fourth down against an unranked opponent, but when that player has the gall to celebrate the moment, the rigid fundamentalism comes roaring back in and sportsmanship suddenly becomes a top priority for them. Wilkins fucking knows that he’s not going to win the Heisman, which is what makes the whole thing funny! Swinney seized one of the highlights of this guy’s senior year and made it about himself. Stuff like that is what makes college football unbearable to watch. Worst of all, is how that culture has rubbed off on Wilkins as he spoke about how he basically agreed with his coach’s decision to go off on him.
“I’m not too happy about the flag. I honestly didn’t think when I did it I was going to get one, but since it did cost the team I’m not thrilled about that, especially since we didn’t do our job again on defense. But happy we won, happy I scored, but just definitely got to get better.”
That’s definitely the language of someone whose coach got to him. Wilkins knows how much fun these scores can be not just for himself, but for the fans watching in the stands or at home. With Clemson being the exception, fat guy touchdowns don’t really happen that often, if at all, for college teams. But it’s more than that they’re rare plays. They embody the unadulterated joy that college football can be as it makes the game all about kids having fun—if you’re the team scoring. It sucks that Swinney can’t see that.