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Dabo Swinney has had a rough few weeks. First, his superstar quarterback Trevor Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19. Clemson survived its first test without the potential Heisman Trophy candidate, but fell to Notre Dame a week later and fell out of the No. 1 spot in the polls. This past weekend and just hours before kickoff, the Tigers matchup with the Florida State Seminoles was suddenly postponed. Swinney wasn’t happy and let it be known. Now, Florida State head coach Mike Norvell has responded.

Trevor Lawrence tests positive and Clemson suffers first loss

A month ago, Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers appeared poised to make another run at a national title. Six games into the 2020 season, the Tigers were undefeated, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence was considered the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.

Then, on October 29, Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19. Due to ACC medical protocols, the junior signal-caller had to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and was ruled out of the next two contests. 

Against Boston College, Clemson fell behind early, but true freshman backup quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, led the team back for a 34-28 victory. The following week, however, against Notre Dame, the Tigers defense struggled to contain the Fighting Irish offense. Notre Dame eventually won in a double-overtime thriller 47-40.  

Dabo Swinney unhappy Florida State game postponed 

With the loss at Notre Dame delivering a big blow to Clemson’s College Football Playoff aspirations, Dabo Swinney was ready to move on and get back to football with his star quarterback, who was scheduled to return against the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee this past weekend. 

Up until a few hours before kickoff, everything appeared to be on schedule, and then, the game was suddenly called off. It was later learned that the teams’ medical staffs could not agree to terms after a symptomatic Clemson player that tested positive for COVID-19 had traveled with the team.  

Dabo Swinney suspects he knows why.

“If the standard to play was zero positive tests, then we would have never had a season,” Swinney told reporters. “This game was not canceled because of COVID. 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, the Florida State administration forfeited the game.”

Florida State responds to Dabo Swinney

On Monday, Florida State head coach Mike Norvell vehemently denied the charges leveled by Dabo Swinney that COVID was an excuse not to play the game. He said the school’s medical staff made the call and that the players and coaches were excited about playing. 

“Football coaches are not doctors. Some of us might think we are, but there’s a reason why medical advisors make decisions based on the information that is provided,” Norvell said. “It’s unfortunate that opportunity has been delayed, but there’s a reason people making those decisions have that responsibility.”

Norvell, who tested positive for COVID-19 in October and missed the team’s game against Miami, said he had attempted to contact Dabo Swinney after the decision was made Saturday morning, but didn’t connect with him. 

“We were excited to play this game. We’re a young team that needs every rep we can get. I’m not concerned what any other coach says or thinks.”

If the game is rescheduled in the future, it will have a whole new layer of drama included after this past weekend’s postponement and the subsequent exchange of words between coaches. While both teams’ fans might tune in for the game action, the casual fan will likely be watching just to see what happens in the post-game handshake.

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