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Dabo Swinney: Clemson may have mistakenly given players banned substances

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Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says there are any number of possible ways for three of his football players to have consumed banned substances that led to their suspension just before the College Football Playoff last December. Although Swinney still believes his players may be vindicated, he is not ruling out the possibility those banned substances may have come from within the Clemson program by mistake.

“Oh yeah, I mean, there’s a chance that it could come from anything,” Swinney said in a story published by The Post and Courier. “They’re going to test everything and look at everything. And that’s the problem. As you really look at this stuff, it could be a contaminant that came from anything, that was something that was cleared and not a problem, and all of a sudden, it becomes there was something.”

It is true that the regulations and banned substances can sometimes be a tad complicated, and there are times when one ingredient slips through the cracks when a player consumes a substance. It is, therefore, possible a substance provided through the university may have been one that was overlooked in the process, although that would lead to some more questions about those responsible for handing out the drugs to players on the university payroll if that is the case.

This latest comment from Swinney doesn’t stray too far from his previous comment on the situation. Last December, when it was announced defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, offensive lineman Zach Giella and tight end Braden Galloway had failed a drug test, Swinney came to the defense of his players and suggested they had no idea how they could have failed their respective drug tests.

“They have no clue how it got in their system. This could have come from hair products, cream, protein, a product you buy online and you think nothing is wrong with it. It could be something in a drink,” Swinney said at the time. “40 or so athletes over the last year or so have had to deal with same thing, and several were vindicated.”

The players failed a drug test for ostarine and additional samples were not clean enough to reinstate the players for the semifinal game against Notre Dame or the national championship game against Alabama. While Lawrence is off to the NFL, Giella and Galloway remain on the team while the appeals process continues.

SEC edges out Big Ten, Pac-12 on Super Bowl LIII rosters

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To nobody’s surprise — and appropriately enough for a game held in Atlanta — Georgia is well represented on the Super Bowl LIII active rosters of the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots. What is a bit head-turning is which school the Bulldogs share the honors with for the most players in the final NFL game of the year.

Rutgers.

Yes, that’s right, the Scarlet Knights are tied with UGA in having four players in the Super Bowl this year. The Patriots have three State University of New Jersey products (Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty and Duron Harmon) while the Rams have Sebastian Joseph-Day. The Bulldogs are evenly split and have some big names playing just down the road from Athens in Todd Gurley and Ramik Wilson for LA and Sony Michel plus David Andrews with New England.

Michel is a notable name in particular, not just because he’s a big part of the Pats offense but because he played in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game for Georgia in the same building one year ago.

Auburn, Cal, Florida, Iowa, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, USC and Washington all had three players on the active roster. The SEC is on top as a conference (21) and edged out the Big Ten (20), Pac-12 (18), ACC (11) and Big 12 (7). There are 10 FCS and four Division II players in the big game too while the AAC led the Group of Five with six representatives.

One interesting quirk? While Alabama and Clemson have dominated college football in recent years, that success didn’t carry over into Super Bowl LIII. There are just two Crimson Tide players in the game (Mark Barron and Dont’a Hightower) and a single Tigers player (Dwayne Allen).

Both of those former Nick Saban players do have a chance to join a select group in winning both an FBS national title in college and a Super Bowl ring though (Hightower actually has two of each already). The others are Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State) and Andrew Whitworth (LSU) with the Rams along with some guy named Tom Brady (Michigan).

Dabo Swinney surprises Clemson equipment manager with Super Bowl tickets

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It is Super Bowl Sunday and millions of football fans are no doubt excited about seeing the Los Angeles Rams taking on the New England Patriots down in Atlanta. Only a handful are able to take in the biggest sporting even in the country up close and in person at Mercedes Benz Stadium however.

Thanks to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Tigers equipment manager David Saville is one of those lucky few. In case you missed it earlier in the week, check out the way the tickets were handed out after a late workout on Wednesday:

“You do so much for this team, the joy you bring every day, the perspective, how hard you work — you’re one of the hardest workers we’ve got,” Swinney said. “We all love you. So we’ve got a special gift for you. I don’t know if you’re interested. I know you’re busy, but the NFL has presented you with two tickets to the Super Bowl this year.”

What a great moment for Saville and a move that is not surprising at all from somebody like Swinney.

While down in Atlanta on Sunday, the Clemson super fan will also have the opportunity to check out former Tiger Dwayne Allen try to win the Lombardi Trophy as a tight end with the Patriots too.

Two Clemson players suspended over failed drug tests still on team as appeals process continues

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One of the biggest storylines heading into the 2018 College Football Playoff continues to unfold as it winds its way through The Association’s process.

Along with All-American Dexter Lawrence, tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella (pictured, No. 77) were suspended ahead of the College Football Playoff after testing positive in mid-December for ostarine, a banned substance used to help increase muscle mass and strength.  A second sample was tested as well and, much to the chagrin of a mind-boggled Lawrencethe suspension was upheld and the trio missed the semifinal win over Notre Dame as well as the championship game win over Alabama.

At the time it was confirmed that they would miss the title game, it was acknowledged by athletic director Dan Radakovich that “Clemson filed notices of appeal with the NCAA” and “will continue to work with the three impacted student-athletes and their legal representatives over the coming weeks to prepare the appeals.” As Lawrence is off to the NFL, the appeal, when it comes to the 2019 college football season, will focus on Galloway and Giella.

In offering an update on the situation, the Charleston Post & Courier is reporting that Galloway and Giella remain as a part of the Tigers football program as they await word from the NCAA on their appeals.  Both players have been suspended for one full year because of the failed drug test, which means they would miss at least the entire 2019 regular season if their appeals are denied.

According to the Post & Courier, NCAA rules would prohibit Giella from playing in a bowl game if the suspension is upheld because he will be in his final year of eligibility in 2019 and has already played three seasons.  Galloway, however, would be permitted to play in a bowl/playoff game.  There’s more from the newspaper on Galloway’s eligibility situation:

If Galloway were to play in postseason games for the Tigers in 2019, under the new redshirt rule he would not burn an additional year of eligibility because he would have played in less than four games. However, he still loses a year for the suspension.

Under that scenario, Galloway could still have two years left to play beginning in 2020.

Galloway, a true freshman, caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown in 2018, while Giella, a redshirt junior, has played in 19 games during his time with the Tigers, including eight this past season.

Both players will be permitted to participate in spring practice the month after next even if the appeals process continues.

Tigers, Tide and oh my: Clemson routs Alabama to secure 2019 National Championship

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Clemson players said all week in the lead up to the 2019 National Championship Game that in order for the them to be the best, they would have to beat the best.

Top ranked and undefeated Alabama, as the defending champion, certainly qualified as that.

The Tigers not only beat the Tide, they beat them down and then some on Monday night, dominating from the opening snap of a 44-16 rout at Levi’s Stadium to secure the program’s third national title and second in three seasons.

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence started off a little anxious but eventually looked right at home as the game wore on — and very much like somebody who will be playing in more NFL stadiums in just a few years. He tossed a 62-yard bomb to Tee Higgins to get the team in the red zone in the first quarter and wound up with an impressive 347 yards and a trio of touchdown passes.

While Lawrence looked nothing like a true freshman under center, tailback Travis Etienne also proved to be a great compliment in the backfield. The sophomore had a touchdown reception off a shuffle pass and scored twice on the ground with some terrific bursts of speed while recording 86 yards rushing.

Oh, and wide receiver Justyn Ross was basically a man among boys as a pass catcher with a handful of one-handers on his way to 153 yards and a touchdown. Just down the road from where Jerry Rice made his name, the young wideout (he’s a freshman too…) from Alabama certainly haunted the home state team he nearly signed with coming out of high school.

It was safe to say that last year’s title game hero was nowhere near the same kind of quarterback on the same stage in 2019. Tua Tagovailoa was actually one of the early front-runners for MVP in the contest… for both sides.

After his defense forced a three-and-out to open the game, Clemson corner A.J. Terrell jumped a short pass in the flat and had nobody anywhere close to him as he ran it back 44 yards to delight the orange and purple fans for a pick-six on the seventh play of the game.

The Hawaiian signal-caller bounced back on the next series to toss a beautiful 62-yard bomb right into the waiting hands of Jerry Jeudy but never could get the offense into the end zone enough to make things interesting as things wore on. Tagovailoa finished the up-and-down outing with a respectable 295 yards and a pair of touchdowns (to the Tide) but did throw another interception and was eventually replaced in the fourth quarter by SEC Championship Game star Jalen Hurts.

It’s been rare to see the Crimson Tide get run off the field by anybody since Nick Saban took over and it’s downright galling to see it be done on this stage. It’s not just the worst loss — by several multiples — in the Saban era but also the first time since he arrived in Tuscaloosa that the team has been beaten by more than three scores.

While one can sometimes say it’s just not your night in big games like this, that would be doing a big disservice to the dominance that Clemson displayed form their early pick-six all the way through to the final minutes. Dabo Swinney has not only built an equal to one of college football’s great dynasties but he’s proven that he’s got one too.

The Tigers became the first modern college football team at the FBS level to go 15-0 in the process to cap off the 2018 season. They not only won the national title, they left no doubt about who is atop the mountain now too.