AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 03:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers talks with Wayne Gallman #9 during the second half against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Dabo Swinney the latest to tell people how and when to protest the national anthem

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OK, let’s get this out of the way. Anything related to national anthem protests is going to be a hot button issue, and that is perfectly OK. It is open discussion that helps promote actual change on any number of subjects. When San Francisco 49ers and former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines and turned heads by choosing to protest the national anthem for what he suggested were social inequalities, he got praised and roasted for it depending on what side o the line you stand. In the recent weeks the discussion has at times trickled into the college football world, and it did once again on Tuesday when Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked if he would punish any player for sitting during the playing of the national anthem before a game.

Of course, keep in mind, it is not typical for most college football players to even be on the field at the time the national anthem is performed, as most generally are in the locker room while the marching band is on the field for the pregame routine. Alas, Swinney responded and then used the opportunity to expand on his thoughts, perhaps a little too long for his own good.

“The only thing I’m going to discipline my player for is things within this team and the team rules, holding everybody accountable to the standard,” Swinney said, according to The Post and Courier. “Guys want to be part of things, I just think they should do it on their own time, and outside of the team framework. That’s just my opinion.”

It was also Swinney’s opinion that those who do sit during the national anthem are being a distraction to the team. Swinney went on to suggest there is a time and a place to voice your opinions, which may not be received very well by some. A rich white man telling others how and when to protest is how it comes off, and that pretty much supports the reasoning behind such a protest movement in the first place.

“I don’t think it’s good to be a distraction to your team,” Swinney said. “I don’t think it’s good to use the team as the platform. I totally disagree with that. Nobody’s really asked me about Kaepernick or whatever. I totally disagree with that. Not his protest, but I just think there’s a right way to do things and I don’t think two wrongs make a right. Never have, never will. And I think that it just creates more divisiveness, more division.”

Swinney may be right about that to an extent, as the dividing lines have certainly been drawn on this particular subject, even if some people are stepping foot on one side of the line for reasons beyond the actual purpose for the national anthem protest. Swinney then used his role as head coach of Clemson to recite a couple of lessons from the Bible to support his case, and .used Martin Luther King Jr’s mission and cited President Barack Obama winning two elections and black quarterbacks and coaches in football to continue padding his case. It’s at this point Swinney probably went on a little too long to try and drive home a point. These examples in our society do nothing to suggest the black population in this country is on equal footing in our societies, and citing these examples ends up coming off disingenuous to those who may support the national anthem protests.

Swinney seems like a good man, and by all accounts he is. This does not change that in any way, because it is clear Swinney is using his voice to promote an open discussion and shares his sentiments about what is going on in this world. But don’t tell people how and when to protest, and don’t use black quarterbacks as a means for suggesting there is a level ground in the social justice world in which we live.

All Swinney had to do was say he would not discipline any player. Sometimes less is more.

Amidst medical mystery, Georgia’s Trenton Thompson withdraws from spring semester classes

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 19: Anthony Jennings #11 of the Lousiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns is pursued by Trenton Thompson #78 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.

First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.

In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:

Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.

As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.

Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.

Iowa State DB Mike Johnson suspended amid domestic violence arrest

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 19: Wide receiver Keke Coutee #20 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders blocks defensive back Mike Johnson #3 of the Iowa State Cyclones as he rushed for yards in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Iowa State has suspended defensive back Mike Johnson after he was arrested Thursday on the accusation that he choked his girlfriend.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Johnson and his girlfriend were fighting over social media posts and music playing over each other’s phones when each tried to reach for the other’s device. That escalated to the point where Johnson allegedly had both hands around the woman’s throat, to the point where told police she “saw stars” and had trouble breathing.

She also had, according to police, bite marks on her right cheek, on her neck and behind her left ear, a swollen upper lip and had what appeared to be dried blood on her. Johnson also said he was bitten during the altercation.

“We are aware of Mike Johnson’s arrest and allegations associated with his arrest,” head coach Matt Campbell told the paper in a statement. “Our program has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Mike has been suspended from all team activities, including practice, under the student-athlete code of conduct policy as we gather more information. His long-term status with the team will be determined once we gain more facts.”

Johnson posted 44 tackles, three pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season.

Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

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James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

Willie Taggart no longer speaking with Oregon beat reporter

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head Coach Willie Taggart walks the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Miami Hurricanes on September 28, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde is now back at work after serving a 1-month, unpaid suspension resulting from three players being hospitalized after Oderinde’s first supervised workout with the Ducks, but the story is not over in Eugene.

According to Oregon’s student paper The Daily Emerald, Taggart is no longer speaking with the reporter who broke the story, The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif.

“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart told the paper. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.”

Greif, for his part, stands by the story and says the paper will not issue a retraction, as Taggart requested:

“Though the description of the workouts is understandably subjective, ultimately what has never been in doubt is that three UO players were hospitalized after the first week of offseason workouts and received treatment for several days,” Greif said in an email to the Emerald.

Complicating matters for Taggart is that the university commissioned faculty athletics rep Tim Gleason, a journalism professor, to review the report. In speaking with players, coaches, trainers and AD Rob Mullens, Gleason found the report not to be inaccurate.

“It’s not an unfair characterization; it’s just that the way it gets interpreted is regrettable,” Gleason said. “In the shorthand of journalism, it resulted in an impression that may not have been completely accurate.”

Also contradicting Taggart are members of his own staff, who said off-the-record that the workouts were “military-style.” Greif quoted them anonymously when inserting that phrase into the piece:

Players this week were required to finish the same workouts, which were described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

It’s not clear where the story goes from here, except that Taggart made clear twice in his interview with the Emerald he has no plans to answer questions from Greif in the future.