Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has a bone to pick with all those unethical reporters out there who don’t cover his team exactly the way he wants them to.
Swinney was asked at a Tuesday press conference whether there had been any internal follow-up conversations or revelations since his players were accused of using racial slurs against South Carolina players in Saturday’s lopsided win. Swinney denied those allegations on Saturday, saying his players told him that they did not use any slurs.
It’s still the word of Swinney and his players against the word of multiple South Carolina players who made the allegations, so you can understand why reporters at today’s press conference would have broached the subject. Swinney, however, became visibly agitated when he was questioned about the incident, and proceeded to issue what appears to be a semi-prepared, four-minute response focused on addressing his personal criticisms of the media.
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According to Swinney, this whole thing has just been blown out of proportion by the media. His list of grievances include the widespread ability to publish content online making it easier for people to unjustifiably attack the character of teams and coaches; the media not adequately revering Clemson’s status as an ACC powerhouse; and the fact that none of the writers who originally reported the story have been fired.
You can listen to Swinney’s answer above, starting around the 28:50 mark, or read a full transcript of Swinney’s comments below:
I give young people some grace. Young people will say some things from time to time. Emotional whatever, I don’t have a problem giving some young people some grace. The only problem I have is with some of the media people. I don’t give them much grace. They don’t give me none either. But I’m not necessarily talking about people in this room, but it’s just like there’s no credibility anymore. You don’t need to confirm anything anymore, just write it. ‘Somebody said what?’ [Explosion noise]. Headlines. They don’t care. Shoot first, ask questions later. That’s the mentality that we have now in the media. It’s a shame, because you’re attacking people’s character. But there won’t be a retraction. There won’t be an apology. You just attack somebody’s character anytime you want if you have the power of the pen or blog or whatever. It used to not be that way. Back in the day, you had relationships and people would, like, ask you. Now, ‘Hey man I was in the bathroom and the man in the third stall was on the phone and said this and that’s what I heard,’ and man, it’s headlines. That’s what it is. That’s the disappointing thing. And zero accountability. Zero. You let me say something. None. No accountability whatsoever. It’s there. Instead of the headline being 23-1 in the last two years; instead of the headline being these senior just won their 46th game; instead of the headline being the largest margin of victory ever for an ACC vs. SEC opponent; instead of the headline being we’ve only had six 11-win seasons in the history of Clemson and we’ve had four in the last five years. Four of those. Instead of those being the headlines, and one of the most dominant performance ever, the headline is what somebody—give me a break. Give me a break. And again, I give grace to the young people. It ain’t about that. I give total grace to that, but for the adults, who will take anything and go and write it and spin it and headline it the way they want it to get people to click on it, man, shame on them. But that’s the world we live in. With zero accountability. A lot of those people should be fired. They should be fired. They should be. But there’s no accountability. People with a microphone, they can just say what they want to say. It don’t matter how they attack people’s character. They don’t say that. You don’t win the amount of football games—you trying to cut me off, Tim?
While the possible critiques of Swinney’s verbal screed are many—it’s not the media’s job to write press releases (at least not yet) or follow a preferred narrative of a millionaire college football coach—it’s telling that not once during his answer did he directly address what remains a serious issue: that multiple opposing South Carolina athletes accused Clemson fans and players of calling Gamecocks players the n-word. Swinney simply waved off the accusations—“young people will say some things from time to time. Emotional whatever, I don’t have a problem giving some young people some grace”—before getting right back to scolding reporters for not showing enough reverence to the Tigers’ on-field success.
Swinney exited to scattered applause and laughter from a group of former players and boosters present for the press conference, according to South Carolina Radio Network’s Kevin McCrarey.