COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney voiced his displeasure in a phone call with the media Sunday night, exclaiming that Florida State used a Tigers’ player testing positive for COVID-19 as an “excuse” to postpone Saturday’s game in Tallahassee.
Florida State football’s medical personnel determined it was unsafe to play the game after the Clemson backup offensive lineman tested positive for the virus Friday. The player did make the trip but was isolated and sent home once informed he had COVID-19.
Swinney emphasized Clemson adhered to all the protocols in place set forth by the league office.
“This game was not canceled because of COVID,” said Swinney. “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, 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.”
Clemson Athletics Director Dan Radakovich said the travel cost to Florida State was around $300,000, which he added was typical for them given the trip’s length.
“We met the standard to play, and we should have played,” Swinney reiterated. “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.”
“We had one guy test positive on Friday, even though all protocols were followed,” Swinney said. “Also, that’s why we test on Friday before the game. He can be negative all week and can be positive on Friday, so that’s why we test Friday.”
“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 we talked about canceling the game was not having enough scholarship guys or at least seven offensive linemen.”
Clemson did offer to test for the virus again on Saturday and reschedule the game for Sunday or Monday. FSU declined that option.
The Tigers players were upset with the decision not to play.
“They weren’t happy,” Swinney said. “They were ticked. These guys have buy-in commitment into the protocols, and we’ve gone to extremes to be able to play. The guys were incredibly disappointed.”
No date for a makeup game has been announced. But, based on what Swinney said in the call with reporters, it sounds like if he had the final say, Clemson would not travel back to Tallahassee to play.