Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney speaks with media before the first day of Spring practice at the Poe Indoor Practice Facility at the Allen N. Reeves football complex in Clemson S.C. Wednesday, February 28, 2024. Credit: The Greenville News

As college football continues to evolve, Dabo Swinney won’t be evolving with it.

At this point, we already know that the Clemson head coach isn’t a fan of name, image and likeness (NIL) or the transfer portal. And during an appearance on College Sports on SiriusXM, the two-time national champion head coach doubled down on his criticism of the portal, explaining why the Tigers are one of the country’s least active teams.

“I mean, it’s really pretty simple. Most of the guys in the portal aren’t good enough to play for us. That’s just the reality of it,” Dabo Swinney told Roddy Jones. “I mean, we have guys that are backups at Clemson that go in the portal because they just want to have an opportunity, and most of them are graduates, by the way. But we have guys that are backups. They want a chance to go play. I’ve got no problem with that. So rarely do we have a starter leave Clemson.

“So the majority of the guys, they’re guys that are in the portal because they wanna have a chance to go start somewhere. They’re not playing where they are. They’re not good enough to come in and play for us.”

While Swinney’s comments might make sense on the surface, it’s worth noting that nearly every other team in college football — including major programs like Alabama, Ohio State and Texas — have added key players via the portal, both in this offseason and previous ones. Meanwhile, Clemson was the only non-service academy to not take any transfers among college football programs this past offseason, with Swinney stating he would rather add depth via traditional recruiting than transfers.

Considering the widespread use of the portal elsewhere, Swinney’s stance certainly stands out. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers perform with their unique approach in 2024, after finishing last season with a 9-4 record, including a 4-4 mark in the ACC.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.