FSU's Norvell says there is "nothing to work out" with Clemson's Swinney
|Thursday, July 22, 2021, 11:00 AM- -|
CHARLOTTE, NC – Florida State head coach Mike Norvell told TigerNet Thursday that he has no plans to speak with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney after last year’s contentious cancellation of a November game, saying that both coaches will simply concentrate on their teams.
Clemson was scheduled to play at Florida St. last November 21st. The teams were supposed to play at noon in Tallahassee, Florida, at Doak Campbell Stadium. However, just three hours before kickoff the news broke that Florida State’s medical personnel deemed the game unsafe for Seminole players after a Clemson player tested positive for COVID Friday. The player, a backup offensive lineman, made the trip to Florida with the team but was isolated and sent home after learning of the positive test.
Norvell, at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte, said that he hasn’t spoken to Swinney and doesn’t plan to.
“Not really. We both have jobs to do and are continuing to invest in our programs,” Norvell said. “That is my focus. At the end of the day that is what we are going to continue to do and build Florida St. back to where we need it to be. That has been our focus.”
He then said that in his mind, there is nothing to work out.
“At the end of the day, there is nothing to work out. Coaches can make statements,” Norvell said. “That is an opportunity we all have. Everybody is entitled to an opinion on what they want to say. We are going to stay focused on what we are doing and what we are about at Florida St.”
Norvell was asked if it gives the Seminoles any extra motivation heading into this year’s game in Death Valley on Oct. 30.
“There is no need for extra motivation. We get the opportunity to play a game,” he said. “You look back at what this last year was, and that last month of the season was one of the hardest months I've ever had to experience as a coach or as a player. There is so much investment that goes into playing a game. The offseason. The work during the week. We had three of our last four games canceled and that is something I hope we neve have to experience in my coaching career. But now you appreciate every day and what you do."
According to Swinney, the Tigers met every standard and requirement for playing the game and the Seminoles merely used COVID as an excuse for not playing.
“Our players and our staff, we have sacrificed all year long. We have demonstrated incredible commitment and we've done everything that's been asked,” Swinney said after the cancellation. “Each week, there is an enormous amount of preparation that goes into getting ready to play. I'm incredibly disappointed that we did not play and I'm disappointed in the decision to not play. We had one guy test positive on Friday so they canceled the game, even though all protocols were followed. Also, that's why we test on Friday before the game because a guy can be negative Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. He can be negative all week and can be positive on Friday, so that's why we test on Friday.
“It's also why we as a league voted to expand the travel roster from 72 to 80 in expectation that there would be positives on Friday so that you could take more guys to be available. No one ever had the illusion that there wouldn't be a positive on a Friday, so that's why the roster was expanded. Any time a guy is positive, whether it be a Monday test, a Wednesday test, a Friday test, that person has been practicing and playing prior to being positive. In fact, we can all test negative on Friday and that doesn't mean someone doesn't turn positive before kickoff on Saturday and we all have known that. 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. Never once was it said that if a team had a player test positive on a Friday test that the game would be canceled. The only thing that we talked about in canceling the game was not having enough scholarship guys or at least seven offensive linemen.”
Swinney, who will meet the media later on Thursday in Charlotte, said at the time that Clemson went above and beyond to ensure the game was played, and in his opinion, COVID was not the reason Florida State backed out of playing.
“As Dan (Radakovich) said, we offered to test again and play Saturday night, Sunday, Monday and it was declined,” Swinney said. “We spent 300-plus thousand dollars to travel. We set up a Ringling Brothers tent and took up an entire parking lot to do what we have to do to meet the standards. We had people travel from all over the country to come to the game. We met the standard to play and we should have played. We have mitigated everything all year long - meetings, practices, meals, housing, how we travel. If the standard to play was zero positive tests, then we would've never had a season.
“This game was not canceled because of COVID. COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game. 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 and 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's no reason for us to play it. We were there, we were ready and we met the standards. From my perspective, that's in the rearview mirror and our focus is 1,000-percent on getting ready for a tough, very well-coached Pitt team.”
Clemson players were understandably angry then.
“They weren't happy. They were ticked. Most people have no idea what goes into a week of preparation,” Swinney said. “These guys have buy-in and commitment into the protocols and we've gone to extremes to be able to play. The guys were incredibly disappointed but we got on a plane and came home and we will move on to the next one. This team has risen to every occasion all year long and I have no doubt they will continue to do that.”
Swinney was asked at the time if he had a reason that Florida State might want to postpone – the Seminoles have battled injuries and opt-outs in recent weeks – and he declined to speculate on the reasoning behind the decision.
“I can't answer that. I just know the standard to play was met. I just know they canceled the game. You either trust the test or you don't. It's that simple,” Swinney said. “If a guy has an earache or a runny nose all week and he tests negative, and you say well, we won't take you. You either trust the tests or you don't and the rules are what they are. There have been plenty of games played this week where guys have tested negative one week and positive the next week. This is a virus. We all know what we are dealing with. And the bottom line is that the rules are put in place for everyone and we more than met the standard to play and they decided to not play.
“You can say whatever you want to, I don't know what their reasoning is. Just mild symptoms. Didn't practice Monday or Tuesday, practiced Wednesday and Thursday and tested negative both days. But that is why test and why expanded the rosters. This can happen. That is why we wear masks and shields and have nine buses. That is why we have a tent put up in the entire parking lot of a hotel.”
Swinney believed that Florida State effectively forfeited the game.
“We were there and we were ready and we met the standards to play that were set forth. Period. They canceled the game and in my opinion, they forfeited the game,” he said. “There was no reason to cancel the game. That is $300,000 out the window.”
Florida State officials said they were concerned about other Clemson players being exposed to the virus, but Swinney wasn’t buying that excuse.
“If that is their concern why did they play this year? I have seen no example of that. Zero,” Swinney said. “If that was their worry they shouldn't have played the season. We test on Friday, guys. If you test negative Thursday and then positive on Friday, you can test negative on Friday and then be positive Saturday during the game and not know it. We all know that. The standard to play was met.”