Clemson and NIL: Culture Plus Compensation Could Give Tigers One-Two Punch

Dabo Swinney has built a near flawless recruiting process. It’s at the heart of the massive success this program has experienced. Everything begins and ends with relationships. This culture, Swinney’s culture, is built on and driven by relationships.

The culture he built, upon the foundations of faith, family and football, has proven it packs a nasty punch when recruiting head-to-head with the bluebloods of college football. However, since a Supreme Court ruling hindered the NCAA from providing governance of the new NIL process, it has been a little difficult to navigate.

On July 1, 2022, the new NIL related law, passed back in May of 2021 by the South Carolina Legislature, will go into effect. While student-athletes have been able to receive compensation from their name, image and likeness for almost a year now, the new bill relaxes some of the rules in this state.

Some within the fan base have made it clear that they don’t feel Clemson can compete without the benefits of NIL sponsorships for student athletes. I’m a realist, I know, money changes everything. Therefore, staying true to what makes Clemson, Clemson, it must find a comfortable and respectable balance between culture and compensation. It seems, maybe they have.

In his final visit with the media, leading up to the spring game on Saturday, Swinney was asked what his thoughts were when he hears news about NIL collectives popping up everywhere. He seemed a little uncomfortable at first but his answer was pure Swinney.

“Yeah, I don’t think anything about it,” he said. “I just focus on coaching my team. You know, I mean, I think that’s whatever’s out there. That’s a natural progression.”

“I think there probably will be some announcements, you know, on the Clemson end. I mean, again, we’re limited in that area. But I think some of the things that I’ve heard out there, I think, are positive and and would fit the purpose of our program and fit within something that everybody can participate in.”

I respect that Clemson, like most programs, try to do things the correct way, following the letter of the law. Unfortunately, there are laws but no rules and no entity to enforce them. My father used to say, integrity is what you do when no one is watching. In the future, thoughtful and deliberate due diligence might finally yield that perfect balance, doing so with integrity.

“These guys, like I said many times, they’ve got an opportunity to do something on their own on their time, good for them. My focus is what’s going on when they show up, in preparing our team, and all that other stuff, and making sure they they’ve got the resources that they need to help navigate that those external things.”

It could be very interesting to see, once the details are released, culture and compensation combined to render a ‘one-two punch.’ In the upcoming weeks and/or months, Swinney and his Clemson Tigers could put the bluebloods on notice. Yes, there’s a new blueblood, or more aptly put, an orangeblood in the neighborhood and this one just happens to wear the Paw.

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