“This game has not been called off due to COVID,” Swinney said. “COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game. I have no doubt that their players wanted to play and would have played. And it’s the same with coaches. For me, the Florida state administration lost the game. ”
Swinney said this was not the first time a situation like this has occurred this season and that no previous game has been affected, comparing the situation to that of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has practiced all the week before her positive COVID-19 test the previous Thursday. Clemson faced Boston College.
“Trevor trained all week except Thursday,” Swinney said, “and BC had no problem coming here to play. ”
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich reiterated the school was following ACC safety protocols and said Clemson’s medical staff were comfortable moving forward with the competition.
The player, a backup offensive lineman, showed “mild” symptoms at the start of the week, Swinney said, but continued to test negative and was allowed to train, while wearing masks and visors and keeping the required social distancing requirements away from the competition. By the time the team traveled to Florida state on Friday – using nine buses for more distance, Swinney said – the player was no longer showing symptoms and was cleared to accompany the team to Tallahassee. Once the Tigers arrived, however, test results showed the player was positive for the virus.
Swinney then said the team “met the standard to play” and “toned down” at meetings, practices, accommodation and travel, noting the “circus tent” that the school had erected in the parking lot of the hotel for team meetings and meals.
The state of Florida said in a similar situation earlier this year it had withheld a coach and player from the trip who had not yet tested positive but were showing symptoms of the virus.
Swinney said that shouldn’t have been a reason to postpone the game, as it’s not required by the ACC.
“So now are we changing the rules?” Either you trust the test or you don’t, ”Swinney says. “If the test is negative, are we going to tell the guys they can’t play anyway?” This is why we are testing. If a guy has an earache or a runny nose and is negative all week, and we’re going to say we won’t accept you? Either you trust the test or you don’t and the rules are what they are. There have been a lot of games played this year where the guys weren’t positive one week and positive the following week. . We all know what we are dealing with. In the end, the rules were implemented for everyone and we more than met the standard. ”
Radakovich said Clemson offered to undergo further testing on Saturday or Sunday, with the two teams then playing the game on Sunday or Monday, but the state of Florida refused.
“We were ready to do whatever it took to play in Tallahassee,” he said. “We think we’ve come up with additional solutions to make it work. ”
The ACC guidelines mirror those of the Centers for Disease Control, which require that anyone who tests positive for the virus be isolated for at least 10 days, while anyone in contact with that person must be quarantined for 14 days. The ACC does not allow anyone to “test” the protocols. The league and CDC determine “contact” as anyone within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period, but the use of masks would potentially override that delay. The ACC said, however, that different schools, states and municipalities will use different definitions for contact tracing, which is why Clemson and the state of Florida might disagree on a specific standard.
Radakovich said the travel costs associated with Clemson’s trip to Tallahassee exceeded $ 300,000, and Swinney made it clear that he had no interest in postponing the game against FSU if the Seminoles did not reimburse those costs.
” We were there. We were ready. We have met the standards to play, ”Swinney said. “In my opinion, they lost the game. It was $ 300,000 that came out of the window. … If the standard for playing was zero positive tests, we would never have had a season. ”
Radakovich told ESPN on Saturday that there were “issues related to the rescheduling which will be discussed with ACC in the coming week.”
The state of Florida announced a 20% budget cut for athletics in August and leave for employees last week, AD David Coburn telling the school board that further cuts were likely as the department faced a massive budget deficit due to COVID-19.
Florida State was an underdog with five touchdowns in the game, which many Clemson fans saw as the real rationale for the postponement. Swinney, for his part, wouldn’t say so explicitly.
“I can’t answer that,” he said. “I just know that the standard for playing has been met. ”
Swinney said the players were extremely disappointed with the decision, with several, including Lawrence, making their feelings known on social media.
“They’ve been checked,” Swinney said of his players. “Most people have no idea what goes into a week of preparation. You put in everything you have and you’ve sacrificed so much. These guys had such a commitment and adhere to the protocols, and we went to such extremes to be able to play. I will be the first [to agree with the decision], if there was a problem as you have seen in other places where the standard is not met, but it was not. ”
Swinney said he had not spoken with FSU coach Mike Norvell, who released a statement on Saturday after the postponement was announced.
“Our first priority is the health of our student-athletes, and I appreciate the protocols that have been put in place by the FSU and the ACC to ensure the health of all while allowing us to play this season,” said Norvell in the press release. “It’s unfortunate that we don’t have the opportunity to compete today, but we hope to be able to play Clemson in December. I am grateful for the support and coordination between our administration, Clemson and the CCA office. focus on welcoming Virginia next week. ”
FSU could not immediately be reached for a response following Swinney’s comments on Sunday.