Dabo Swinney Criticized For Potentially Pulling Scholarships From Past Walk-Ons

Dabo Swinney walks the sidelines in Clemson's bowl game vs. Tennessee.

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There’s a popular saying in the world of college football recruiting when it comes to adding big time players to the roster. “The numbers always work out.”

That saying rings even truer with the introduction of the transfer portal as the sport is seeing massive amounts of players swapping schools on a regular basis.

That constant movement has added a new wrinkle for coaches as they navigate the ins and outs of roster management. There are only so many scholarships to give, so when a new player unexpectedly takes interest in the program, it could force another player out.

We see it in high school recruiting as year after year, prospects are dropped at the last second to open a slot for a more sought-after player on signing day.

With transfers, those conversations can become even more difficult as players are already on campus. That means possibly “encouraging” a team member to “explore other options,” or in Clemson’s case, potentially taking scholarships from past walk-ons.

The Tigers are currently sitting at 88 scholarships with an 85-player limit. That means three previous walk-ons could possibly lose their scholarships.

Here’s what coach Swinney had to say about the scholarship situation.

“Unfortunately, we always have a couple of walk-ons that deserve a scholarship… Last year, we were able to put (Holden) Casperson, the snapper on. He deserves it. Hunter Helms then Domonique Thomas.

“Those are guys that came here as walk-ons, and all of those guys we felt earned scholarships. But in a situation like this, that is where you start. Who knows, though, what will happen? We have until August. Somebody may leave… We’ve got a plan and we will be at 85 come September.”

It is worth noting that Dabo Swinney was once a walk-on at Alabama, and he’s been up front with players that he puts on scholarship. These are year-to-year offers that can be revoked.

The Tigers had seven seniors return unexpectedly, most notably defensive linemen Tyler Davis and Xavier Thomas. He’s also conducting exit interviews to see if any players are leaning towards leaving the program.

He’s had no takers at this point in time which puts him in an awkward position this offseason.

Clemson is an interesting case study in this situation, too.

On one hand, every program in America would have this option on the table if they needed to clear up space. On the other, Dabo seems to accept more of these “high-profile” fringe players than others (i.e. Kirk Herbstreit’s kids, Brent Venables’ kids, Bear Bryant’s great-grandson, his own kids, etc.).

Many have taken up roster space with scholarships.

Fans were quick to comment on Clemson’s current conundrum, posting responses on social media.

Some sided with Dabo Swinney, asking, “Don’t all programs do this?”

Most others, however, quickly blasted the head coach.

It’s not the first time Dabo Swinney has been ripped about his roster management commentary. We’ve heard his views on the transfer portal, as well as his team’s NIL program that was supposedly built in “God’s name, image, and likeness.”

He’s an easy target for most college football fans to hate on, though in this particular case, most other programs would look at things the same way.

As Swinney says, “That’s the life of a walk-on.”