By Mark Hauser
Getting fired is hard. Saying, “you’re fired” to someone should bring no pleasure to the one doing the firing. People who get fired often have families. They often have kids that depend on them not just to pay life’s basic bills, but for things like health care and education.
It should also be noted that getting fired isn’t as hard when you have a $7,000,000.00 dollar buyout. Or Five Million dollars. Or even just $1,000,000. Plus the guarantee of a state pension and health care for the rest of your life. Those are the dollar amounts the head football coach at Clemson University would receive over the next several seasons, scaled down over time, should he be dismissed from the school without cause. Bear in mind, if he were to be fired with cause, he would hire an expensive lawyer to dispute the claim and negotiate a handsome severance. Count on it. Happens all the time.
Sportswriters and NFL talent evaluators do not have multi-million dollar buyouts. But for some reason, Dabo Swinney has felt compelled to publicly say these people should be axed. Twice in the last seven weeks. Swinney, South Carolina’s highest paid state employee, has said publicly people either writing about or evaluating his team should be ‘fired” or “lose their jobs.”
The first example happened following CU’s regular season finale vs South Carolina. A writer for The State newspaper quoted several USC Gamecock football players saying they heard racially charged verbal epitaphs aimed at them from either Clemson players or fans. Swinney felt the piece was unfair.
At his weekly press conference, Swinney said, “since I am held accountable, they should be held accountable. They should be fired.” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said he was inclined to believe his guys. Footnote: the writer was held accountable to the journalistic standard of his employer. Just as Swinney is held accountable to the standards set by his athletic director and school president.
While Dabo was either given a pass or actually cheered on by his fan base and “press” corps locally, the national media collectively wondered, “what’s wrong with this fellow?”
It happened again yesterday. Only this example was even more tangential. As a guest on Rich Eisen’s national radio show, Eisen mentioned that some NFL talent evaluators had Clemson’s championship quarterback, DeShawn Watson, listed as a second round talent.
“Those guys should lose their jobs”, said Swinney in response.
This time the national press responded with more of a laugh than anything. Locally it barely received a mention.
But while words uttered by those in power may not have direct consequence, they speak to a more nuanced conversation about verbiage used and the entitlement that comes with using certain words and phrases. What is this fascination Swinney has with throwing people out of work?
Quick math: Swinney has a $7 million dollar buyout this coming season. Were he to be let go, allowing for taxes, etc, he would net about $3.5 million. Let’s just assume the writer he wants fired makes $50,000 a year and takes home $40k after taxes. It would take that writer 87.5 years to make what Dabo would receive if he were to be told, “You’re Fired.”
Has the guy who’s life experience includes sleeping on a friend’s couch in high school forgotten where he’s come from? His life story of hard work and perseverance, from couch to coach to a national championship is a Disney movie waiting to happen.
But part of the narrative Swinney espouses embraces the principal of personal humility. When detailing why Watson should be a first round pick he told Eisen that DeShaun’s locker room presence will make the team he plays for a winner because Watson is humble. Dabo also went on to say that those talent evaluators opinions with whom he disagrees are “why I don’t pay any attention to that stuff.”
Ummm…..apparently you do. It gets under your skin, Dabo. Enough to call for somebody’s job simply because you didn’t like or agree with what they wrote or thought.
Saying “you’re fired” isn’t particularly humble. It doesn’t fit your narrative. It ruins a great story.