Synan Says, the Real Top 25 in College Football: Dabo Swinney Doesn’t Need to Play the Blame Game

Fans, administrators, players and even coaches are mad after Florida State pulled the plug on playing Clemson just three hours before kickoff on Saturday.

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney went bonkers on his weekly teleconference.

“We’ve done everything that’s been asked,” Swinney said. “I’m incredibly disappointed that we did not play, and I’m incredibly disappointed at the decision to not play. We had one guy test positive on Friday, and so they canceled the game even though all protocols were followed.”

Here’s the situation: Clemson had a backup offensive lineman showing symptoms early in the week. He did not practice Monday or Tuesday. He also tested negative for the virus three times during the week and returned to practice Wednesday. Players are tested for a final time on Thursday. The team got those results on Friday after having already traveled to Tallahassee for the game. Clemson isolated the player but Florida State said they would not play the game.

Clearly aggravated, Swinney went on a rant. “The standard to cancel a game was not met. A guy testing positive on Friday does not cancel a game. I was on every committee call for months, since March, and that was never the case,” he said.

While he had not talked to FSU Coach Mike Norvell, Swinney pointed the finger at FSU’s administration, not the coaches and players.

“We should have played. We have mitigated everything all year long… if the standard to play was zero positive tests, then we would have never had a season. This game was not canceled because of COVID.  COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game,” Swinney said, adding that other players have tested positive from his team or on the opposing team on the Friday before a game but it was still played because the protocols had been met. “And to be honest with you, I don’t think it has anything to do with their players. I have no doubt that their players wanted to play, and would have played. Same with the coaches. To me, the Florida State administration forfeited the game. If they want to play Clemson, in my opinion, they need to come to Clemson or they need to pay for all expenses. Other than that, there is no reason for us to play them.”

It cost Clemson $300,000 in travel expenses to go to Tallahassee and not play. Instead of pointing fingers at FSU’s administration or at Clemson’s athletics department for letting a potentially positive player on the team bus in the first place, we need to put the blame exactly where it belongs: on the global pandemic.

How can anyone say that playing a football game takes precedence over the safety and health of these young men? When the FSU coaches recruited the players on the roster, they looked those parents in the eyes and promised to care for their sons. If exposing players to COVID-19 was a possibility, shouldn’t they cancel the game?

What makes Florida State look even worse was that Clemson was ready to stay longer to get this game played. Clemson offered to retest the whole team and move the game to Saturday night, Sunday or Monday, All of those options were rejected by Florida State.

I disagree with what the FSU administration did which makes them look very bad. It smacks of “we were going to get crushed by Clemson, so let’s save some face and cancel.” Still, Clemson did exactly what it was supposed to do, and COVID-19 reared its ugly head.

Let’s not berate Florida State for making sure it did not turn into a worse nightmare for them.  The blame should be on the virus–and nowhere else.


  1. ALABAMA (7-0) Stomped the living daylights out of Kentucky.
  2. NOTRE DAME (8-0) Still have the best win out there when they beat Clemson.
  3. OHIO STATE (4-0) Finally have a top-notch win by beating Indiana.
  4. CINCINNATI (8-0) I think they’re playoff worthy, especially after handling UCF with a fourth-quarter comeback.
  5. NORTHWESTERN (5-0) Now have a top-notch win over Wisconsin.
  6. TEXAS A&M (5-1) Another game postponed.
  7. CLEMSON (7-1) Plenty of time and games for them to get back into top four.
  8. FLORIDA (6-1) If they win out and beat Alabama, there is no way to keep them out of the playoffs.
  9. BYU (9-0) Stepped in it this week via social media, posting “anytime, anywhere”–and then backing out of a potential game against Washington.
  10. OREGON (3-0) I’m only sold their QB is good enough with many questions about the rest of the team.
  11. INDIANA (4-1) If you are not convinced, you missed Saturday’s game against Ohio State.
  12. COASTAL CAROLINA (8-0) Watching them go back and forth against Appalachian State was thoroughly enjoyable.
  13. SOUTHERN CAL (3-0) Hard to judge how good Utah is since it was their first game. Still, the Trojans had a nice win.
  14. MIAMI (7-1) Cardiac kids had the week off.
  15. WISCONSIN (2-1) Very slim chance to make Big 10 title game after loss.
  16. MARSHALL (7-0) Their best win–beating Appalachian State00took a hit this week.
  17. LOUISIANA (7-1) Still here on the strength of beating Iowa State by 17.
  18. GEORGIA (5-2) JT Daniels played and was good. Does UGA finally have its QB?
  19. OKLAHOMA (6-2) Five in a row after 1-2 start with a big win over Oklahoma State.
  20. AUBURN (4-2) Can they play with Alabama?
  21. TULSA (5-1) Barely escaped on Saturday.
  22. IOWA STATE (6-2) Really turned it around after early struggles.
  23. WASHINGTON (2-0) Need better competition to get an idea of how good they actually are.
  24. COLORADO (2-0) We will find out against Southern Cal this weekend.
  25. NEVADA (5-0) Had San Jose St. here last week but cheers to Nevada, who also beat San Diego St.


Reach Mike Synan at


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