Photo-realistic Death Valley replica!
Hood: Dabo Don't Play

  by - Senior Writer - Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:42 PM

Dabo don’t play.

That first phrase may not be grammatically correct, but in the lexicon of today’s youth it says everything you need to know about Clemson’s head coach and how he handles discipline and even focus issues on his football team.

Swinney ambled over to the media Monday evening inside the indoor practice facility, and one of the first questions he was asked centered around any discipline issues he might have had with players over spring break, a typical question following spring break, summer break and the break before the bowl game.

Swinney announced that he didn’t have a discipline issue, but did have a focus issue with wide receiver Germone HopperGermone Hopper
RS So. Wide Receiver
#5 6-0, 170
Charlotte, NC

View Full Profile
. Swinney said that Hopper wasn’t suspended, and the talented redshirt sophomore wasn’t academically ineligible. However, the grades were enough of a concern that Swinney wants Hopper to take the time he would have spent on the football field this spring – the ten remaining practices and all of the film work – and spend it in Vickery Hall catching up on his studies.

Dabo don’t play.

Nikki was running the video camera, and while Swinney finished the remainder of his press conference I thought about the times we’ve had these conversations with Clemson’s head coach – earlier this spring when he announced that four players were suspended for the season opener against Georgia; Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Wide Receiver (2011 - 2013)
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC

View Full Profile
being left at home for the Chick-fil-A Bowl; Mike BellamyMike Bellamy
Running Back (2011)
#5 5-10, 175
Nocatee, FL

View Full Profile
being given every chance – albeit with a little tough love – before being sent away; Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Wide Receiver (2011 - 2013)
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

View Full Profile
; getting defensive back Garry PetersGarry Peters
RS Sr. Cornerback
#26 6-0, 195
Conyers, GA

View Full Profile
refocused by having him sit out last spring.

In today’s win-at-all-costs society, it’s refreshing to see someone -whose job depends on those wins – have the wins take a backseat to building up the character of the young men in his charge, making sure that they receive the tough love they need as young men that will make them better husbands and fathers down the road.

Not everybody agrees with this kind of discipline – there are well-known head coaches who will do everything in their power to make sure that their great players are eligible for the big game, suspending them for a game somewhere down the road or for a practice or two, effectively enabling bad behavior down the road. The message is clear – you are a star athlete, you can do what you want.

Even fans get caught up in that kind of thinking, fans who will ground their teenager for being late for curfew, who will take away car privileges for a tiny white lie. Those same “good parents” will scream when a star player is suspended for a big game. After Swinney announced the four suspensions for the Georgia game, I had more than one person I respect as a parent ask me why Swinney couldn’t wait and suspend them a week later against South Carolina St., when it would hurt the team the least. Heck, we’ve seen that kind of “coaching” in this state before, and it wouldn’t hurt now, would it? Coach, it’s Georgia!!! Can’t we look away this time? Just this one time?

Nope, can’t look away. It sends the wrong message. It says that winning trumps all else. That kind of “discipline” is nothing more than a show for the fans, administrators and media.

Heck, even I wondered about Sammy Watkins’ suspension, wondering if it was too harsh. But Sammy came out of the suspension a better man, a better player. I wondered privately how Bryant would handle being left at home for the bowl game against LSU, thought maybe he would just give up and we would see another brilliant talent wasted. Instead, Bryant took the tough love to heart, came back to school, worked harder than ever and now has a good chance of being picked up in the first few days of the NFL Draft next month. For every Mike Bellamy that can’t take that kind of discipline, there are others like Watkins and Bryant who thrive and who come out on the other side better for the experience.

Swinney reiterated Monday night that he loves Hopper, that he is a good kid who just needs to focus on his priorities right now. He has also said that the four who are suspended for the opener “didn’t rob a bank” but just need to know that there are limits. In the news recently, we saw where four college players actually did defraud a bank of funds. The ball – so to speak – is now in their coach’s court.

I ran into one of Clemson’s four suspended players recently, and he smiled and admitted he made a dumb mistake (No, I didn’t ask) and he said “we did something dumb.” He then said it makes him want to work harder than ever and play the final 11 games of the season with a purpose. He said the hardest thing is knowing he let his teammates down.

Message received, coach.

When I was younger, my brother-in-law and sister took me to old Comiskey Park in Chicago to see the Baltimore Orioles and the White Sox play. The fans had a chance to go on the field before the game and get pictures with their favorite players, but I went over to an older guy in an Oriole uniform that I had seen on NBC’s Game of the Week countless times – Cal Ripken, Sr.

We talked for a few minutes, and I asked him what made all of those Oriole teams of that generation so good, and he told me about The Oriole Way. He explained that all Oriole players were taught – from the moment they first set foot on a professional ball field – to play the game the right way, to execute the fundamentals and to treat the game with respect.

Here, at Clemson, we now have The Clemson Way. Basketball coach Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
Head Coach
View Full Profile
certainly isn’t afraid to sit a player. Jack LeggettJack Leggett
Baseball Head Coach
View Full Profile
sat Steve Wilkerson for a three-game series to open the season.

Dabo don’t play. That’s a good thing.

Rate this Story:
89 votes
Send Feedback to David Hood: Email | Comment
    ESPN's Pollack and Palmer break down Clemson-UGA - 6 days ago
    ESPN college football analysts David Pollack and Jesse Palmer spent the early part of Thursday afternoon on a conference call with the national media, and the early part of the call centered on the Clemson and Georgia opener in nine days and Clemson’s chances of making a run at the four team playoff. What does Pollack say about Deshaun Watson? Where does he rank Clemson's defense? Full Story »
    Herbstreit doesn't like Stoudt's or Clemson's chances at Georgia - 7 days ago
    ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit thinks that Georgia’s environment and a defense helmed by former FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will be too much for Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt when Clemson and Georgia meet in the season opener in Sanford Stadium on August 30th. Photo by Dale O. Watson / US PRESSWIRE Full Story »
    Stoudt says offense will be better than ever - 1 week ago
    Clemson's offense started slow Saturday afternoon, but quarterback Cole Stoudt said his group eventually found a rhythm and made plays and has a chance to be even better than last season. Also, Adam Humphries talks about the young wide receivers and Stephone Anthony talks about the defense. Full Story »
    Friday report: Blanks redshirt, Peake update and looking ahead to Georgia - 2 weeks ago
    Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told the media Friday afternoon that Travis Blanks came to him with the idea of a redshirt. What are Blanks thoughts? What is the latest on Charone Peake? When will the Tigers begin preparations for Georgia? Full Story »
    Suspension changes Germone Hopper's outlook on life and football - 2 weeks ago
    Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney suspended wide receiver Germone Hopper midway through spring practice, but Hopper has started to earn the coaches' trust and even earned praise from Chad Morris Saturday. What does Hopper say about the suspension? How has it changed his outlook on life and football? Full Story »

Post your comments

Subscribe to our RSS Feed
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Facebook
Sign Up for News Alerts
Daily Digest