Dabo Swinney’s plan to revolutionize college football

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is one of college football’s biggest advocates for the NCAA permitting a spring scrimmage against another team.

We’ve always endorsed the idea for three reasons: It would further enhance the enormous popularity of college football, it would give players and fans something to look forward to during the middle of the offseason, and most importantly it would generate much-needed revenue for college athletic departments struggling in the tough economy. Or proceeds could be donated to charity.

  • UGA vs. Clemson.
  • Texas A&M vs. Texas
  • Georgia Tech vs. Alabama
  • Oklahoma vs. Nebraska
  • Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech
  • Penn State vs. Pittsburgh
  • Auburn vs. FSU

Would you be tempted to attend one of those scrimmages if they were held this spring? We think a lot of people would. The NCAA already allows scrimmages and pre-season exhibitions in other sports, including basketball and soccer.

Clemson's Dabo Swinney:

Clemson's Dabo Swinney a spring football game vs. another team: "Personally, I think it would be a good thing for college football to do. College football takes in a lot of money. I think it would be an opportunity to give something back to your school or a charity." (AP)

“I don’t know if it will ever happen but it’s fun to think about,” Swinney told the AJC.

It’s an idea that has been kicked around before. Here are the basics of Dabo’s proposal: College football teams have the option of a spring game against themselves or another team. If you play another team, it must be both an out-of-conference team but also one within a reasonable driving distance. The coaches will agree upon the rules of the scrimmage in advance.

“Personally, I think it would be a good thing for college football to do,” Swinney said. “College football takes in a lot of money. I think it would be an opportunity to give something back to your school or a charity.

“The other side of it is this: We’re already doing it in basketball. Our basketball teams play other teams but it’s closed, so nobody knows about it. For example, Clemson plays Georgia in basketball every year. But it’s a closed scrimmage. You know, nobody can be in there except the two teams. If they didn’t want to do any type of public thing, I wouldn’t have a problem with having a closed football scrimmage where nobody could be there but the staffs of both teams.”

We’re going to have to interrupt Dabo there. We’d like an open scrimmage in front of the general public and …. for the best of spring matchups – national TV. Why? $$$

“The good thing about doing something like this is that in the spring time, you don’t have your whole team there. Like last spring, for example, we were missing 31 guys for spring ball. So we were very, very thin. This year, we have more bodies on hand. But still, every time you practice against each other in a scrimmage, you’re 100-percent invested with your personnel, as opposed to if you go and scrimmage somebody else. You’re scrimmaging their defense, while your defense is on the sidelines. When your offense is out there, your defense is on the sidelines. You’re not 100-percent vested with what’s going on. I just think there’s something good with that.

“Plus I think a scrimmage would be a great way to further teach our guys and prepare them for the season  … to be able to implement your schemes against another opponent, and it could be against anybody. Obviously, I don’t think you should do it against a team in your conference. But anybody else … maybe the NCAA could put stipulations like it’s got to be a team within a 100 or 200 miles or something like that. Most everybody could find somebody to scrimmage against.

“I think it would be fun. I think the players would enjoy it. I think the fans would enjoy it. But that’s just one guy’s opinion.”

In 11 years as UGA's coach, Mark Richt has never (AJC)

Clemson's coach thinks a spring scrimmage vs. UGA would "fill it up" with stadium attendance (AJC)

Clemson has its annual spring game vs. Clemson on April 14, and expects a crowd of more than 30,000 fans. What if that scrimmage was against the SEC East champions located only 75 miles away? “If it was Georgia, we’d certainly fill it up,” Swinney said. “It would be like that for Clemson and a Georgia, or whomever it may be, in a scrimmage situation. It would probably be like that at many other spring scrimmages between teams in the Southeast region.”

What are the negatives? We can’t think of many. Some may say injuries. But this is college football, not rec football. If you ever go to a spring game (remember to drink a lot of caffeine to keep yourself awake), you will notice that teammates go just as hard against each other as they do against opponents during the regular season. They’re battling for jobs, and every practice snap is an audition for somebody.

We asked some other coaches what they thought about the idea:

  • North Carolina’s Larry Fedora: “I think that would be great. I think you would get a pretty good idea on where your team is at that time. Putting on spring games against yourself is difficult just because of the amount of kids you have on scholarship that time of year … with your seniors gone and your freshmen not being there yet … plus you have other players out for the spring with injuries. All of that really makes it difficult to do an intra-squad scrimmage. So I think you could benefit from something like a scrimmage opponent in a lot of ways.” AJC Dream Matchup: North Carolina vs. South Carolina
  • Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson: “Off the cuff, it sounds like it might be a good idea but I really haven’t thought much about it … It can get old practicing against yourself. Anytime you can play or scrimmage against somebody else, it would be good. The NFL certainly does it in training camp. Basketball plays an exhibition before their season.”
    Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin will likely see a lot of his new SEC pals recruiting his home turf within the next few years (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M)

    Texas A&M coach on a spring scrimmage vs. Texas: "There wouldn’t be anything scrimmage-like if we played them. That would be a real game.” (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M)

  • Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin: “Dabo wants a jamboree? Why not? I don’t know. That’s a different deal. I think it’s different when you’re in the first year of your program like I am and you need every practice you can get … put it that way. If you ask me a couple of years from now, I might think differently.” AJC Dream Matchup: Texas A&M vs. Texas. “There wouldn’t be anything scrimmage-like if we played them. That would be a real game.”
  • Kentucky’s Joker Phillips: “A lot of teams use their spring practices and spring game to get their team better with fundamentals. I would be opposed to playing another vicious game and losing a kid for the rest of the season.” AJC Dream Matchup: Kentucky vs. Louisville. “See what I mean? It’s going to be vicious if we’re scrimmaging Louisville.”
  • Virginia’s Mike London: “I know Dabo personally. It’s an innovative idea, particularly when you look at conference realignment and television money. Playing against another team than yourself in the spring may bring in revenue to go toward other sports, non-scholarship sports, or other entities around the university … I imagine there would be some support for that idea if people really started talking seriously about it.” AJC Dream Matchup: Virginia vs. West Virginia

VOTE: Spring scrimmage vs. opponent?

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What would have to happen next for spring scrimmages to become a reality? “Any NCAA member school or conference can propose a rule change or update,” according to NCAA spokesperson Christopher Radford, who also provided us with a long list of bylaws that prevent it from happening right now.

Now it’s YOUR turn. What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Why? What would be your dream matchup? Please post below.



JUST IN …

MARCH MADNESS, WHAT’S THAT? RECRUITING MADNESS!

WHILE YOUR BRACKETS GOT MESSED UP …

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

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143 comments Add your comment

macrotech

March 28th, 2012
3:21 am

I don’t see a good reason to NOT do this. It would CERTAINLY help those of us that are in College Football Withdrawls!!! Could make up for some fun match ups!!!

macrotech

March 28th, 2012
3:25 am

First?! I’d like to thank my mommy and daddy for bringing me into this world! Without them, this momentous occasion could have NEVER happened! Tito…..bring me a tissue? ;)

RedandBackDAWG

March 28th, 2012
3:39 am

A lot of logistics would have to take place alone for this to happen. Do something like a “Can Drive” for the hungry like UGA usually does for G day, and it might be an idea worthy of consideration. Spring games are more for the fans than the players, so I am not sure driving to a place like Clemson would be so great except for Clemson and the inverse would also be true.

UA DMD

March 28th, 2012
4:51 am

If the NCAA was smart, they would allow this and take percentage of the gate. They barely make any money off bowl games. If there wasn’t March Madness, they would be bankrupt or have a staff of 10.

Crimson Crush

March 28th, 2012
4:58 am

Personally as a college football fan I am all for it . For Bama fans though it might cut into one of the best chances some Tide fans currently have to see their program live at all . A-Day games in Tuscaloosa are already packed and stacked . It might be a case where the Tide is better served to wait until early adoption (and HUGE success) by other programs drives them to it rather than being an early adopter itself .

Crimson Crush

March 28th, 2012
5:06 am

A & M comment on theprosed AJC “matchup” of the Horns vs the Aggies was funny …

““There wouldn’t be anything scrimmage-like if we played them. That would be a real game.”

No chit . Why didn’t MC call up Paul Johnson and ask if the Jackets were interested in a televised spring scrimmage against the Dawgs ? LOL

Stinger2

March 28th, 2012
5:22 am

I vote for it. I vote against GT vs Alabama. The would probably elect to continue to play their own A-Day game anyway since their draw huge crowds and keep all the revenue themselves. GT at this point would not be competitive with Alabama even in a spring game. I would vote for GT vs. Auburn and see what the interest is there. The opponent could be changed if the schools and coaches wanted to do so.

Hmmmm

March 28th, 2012
6:01 am

Tech could scrimmage Ga. State. (or Buford) That could be competitive.

FL Jacket

March 28th, 2012
6:21 am

If Dabo wants to revolutionize college football…he should start by learning how to beat teams that play option football.

Bring on GT-Alabama! Georgia Southern gave Bama absolute fits trying to stop the TO before they figured out how much more talented they were and pulled away. Bama was a GT rivalry back in the day.

Bama Fan#2

March 28th, 2012
6:23 am

Would love to see FSU and Alabama play in the Georgia
Dome this spring. They played back in 07 in Jacksonville
FL and both teams made a lot of money. The bad news
FSU won and it was Saban’s first year but now Bama would
kick the crap out of the seminoles!! RTR

bjohnDawg

March 28th, 2012
6:23 am

Why not? i think it would make college football even that much more exciting and fuel the sport during the season. Out of conference and not on the schedule and within a reasonable distance.

Paddy

March 28th, 2012
6:27 am

It would be great to see GSU vs GSU!

Jacket Man

March 28th, 2012
6:40 am

Alabama has already backed out of regular season games against GA Tech; do you really think they, or anyone else for that matter, would want to prepare for their offense just for a Spring game? This sounds great on (and for the) paper, but it just isn’t realistic.

[...] its over the top header (and who doesn’t feel the need to choke back the snark upon seeing any piece which starts [...]

Crimson Crush

March 28th, 2012
6:50 am

Interesting everyone is already talking like it is a game and not what spring is supposed to be for … scrimmages to prepare and evaluate programs for the upcoming seasons . That is why I am not so sure what Coach Saban’s real opinion on the subject would be .

I can see why programs with a tepid spring following would love it … I can see why many college football fans in general would love it ( Tide fans included ) …

I still think it could have more negatives than positives for the Tide UNTIL the day arrived that other programs were actually filling up their own stadiums AND getting TV revenue AND getting additional national exposure . As things stand now … Bama already fills its stadium for spring scrimmages against itself and national TV exposure isn’t a problem either …

Bandwagon Bammer

March 28th, 2012
7:02 am

Seez here at Alabama, we’d have to scrimmage the N.Y. Giants or sumpthing to even get any real competition for us.

[...] We’ve always endorsed the idea for three reasons: It would further enhance the enormous popularity of college football, it would give players and fans something to look forward to during the middle of the offseason, and most importantly it would generateArticle source: http://blogs.ajc.com/recruiting/2012/03/28/dabo-swinneys-plan-to-revolutionize-college-football/ [...]

Beast from the East

March 28th, 2012
7:38 am

Does his plan to “revolutionize college football” include stopping anyone from scoring in a bowl game?

Looked like a scrimmage by Clemson while WVU showed up to play a game.

reebok

March 28th, 2012
7:40 am

Love the idea. Tech vs the Tide or the Vols…Georgia vs Clemson or the Tar Heels…Georgia State vs Georgia Southern!

ECDawg

March 28th, 2012
7:59 am

How in the world is this story related to college recruiting?

Patrick in DC

March 28th, 2012
8:13 am

Joker Philips is right. UK and Louisville would be vicious if they played a spring game because they hate each other. Solution: don’t play a bitter rival in the Spring Jamboree. Same with Texas and A&M. I like the idea of rekindling old rivalries that were lost to conference moves. Oklahoma and Nebraska, Clemson and Georgia, Georgia Tech and Auburn (NEVER Alabama!)

ATLANTA GA , USA

March 28th, 2012
8:18 am

I think the MAIN reason why coach Dabo Swinney want this match up is to help him get the best recruits that normally enroll at SEC schools

Crimson Crush

March 28th, 2012
8:19 am

@ECDawg

Probably a case of push and pull . Recruiting articles about recruits going all over he** ( and half of Jawja) have increasingly pulled MC into wider areas of college football than just a simplistic homerized rehashing of what the Dawgs and Jackets happen to (NOT) be doing this week . That in turn might slowly be pushing a realization that a TRUE college football blog on the AJC is in order . If it hasn’t … it should .

Some Atlanta denizens might like to pose as being “above it all” but this IS the South . College football is KING …..

sheepdawg

March 28th, 2012
8:44 am

stupid idea. lets instead consider real reform that brings back true college athletics at all levels. No non student athletes allowed. No one and done by thugs with no intention or desire to pursue an education. eliminate all the giant athletic associations that pay coaches $5 million a year to treat teenages like expendable property. greed has taken over college athletics and will be the source of its inevitable crash and burn. no other nation on earth so taints its secondary education system

Gorilla Biscuit

March 28th, 2012
8:48 am

When I played high school ball we always finished spring practice with a jamboree.
Georgia vs. GT….chance to beat the GnaTs twice a year. :)

ATL Nole

March 28th, 2012
8:51 am

Bama Fan#2
March 28th, 2012
6:23 am

We beat you then and we will beat you now! The elephants don’t want nothing of what we’re serving up.

Jadaveon Clowney

March 28th, 2012
9:00 am

“If it was Georgia, we’d certainly fill it up,” Swinney said.

You can’t even fill up your stadium for a regular season game. Seriously?

Home of the Champions

March 28th, 2012
9:01 am

“From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment—my commitment, our family’s commitment—to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career,” Saban told al.com. “We made that decision after the season when other people were interested.”

Will Nill

March 28th, 2012
9:01 am

I would like to thank datboy swinny for inventing football. I am sure he’d like nothing better than to get out of hooterville and “go to town for a game” during the spring, I do find it funny that datboy wants to play UGA in a practice game but wants to DROP PLAYING UGA in a real game. That’s very inventive datboy. Good for you

Emory Eagle

March 28th, 2012
9:02 am

This is hardly a new idea. Lou Holtz has been championing Spring scrimmages between schools for over a decade. Sorry Dabo, it’s not an original idea, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good one.

Home of the Champions

March 28th, 2012
9:03 am

Saban says Alabama is his final coaching stop.

RxDawg

March 28th, 2012
9:05 am

Eh… I duno. I mean extra games, especially in the boring spring for sports sounds great. But I see problems. I’m shocked to see all the coaches support it. The preassure to “win” the game would become great. Also the point of spring practice scrimages is to test your players and see who can do what, not actually win the game.

If the NCAA allowed the practice scrimage and didn’t take anything away from our spring practice time as it is now I’d be ok with it.

Rooty Tooty

March 28th, 2012
9:08 am

YES, then UGA could schedule Fort Valley State or West Georgia for its tuneup…

The Truth

March 28th, 2012
9:08 am

hey Atl Nole: you serving up another 10-4 or 9-5 season again with a Chic Fil A Bowl appearance again?

Gorilla Biscuit

March 28th, 2012
9:11 am

“From my standpoint, the acceptance of this extension represents our commitment—my commitment, our family’s commitment—to the University of Alabama for the rest of our career,” Saban told al.com.

Ok, so Saban has made that commitment, but has Bama nation made that commitment? Saban has set the bar now with two MNCs in three seasons. Will Bama fans accept anything less? Will they be throwing bricks through his window if he goes two or three years without a MNC? Will they be backing the UHaul up his driveway if he should lose to Auburn a couple of three times?

Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson

March 28th, 2012
9:12 am

On signing a recruit for the 2013 class: “Off the cuff, it sounds like it might be a good idea but I really haven’t thought much about it …”

RxDawg

March 28th, 2012
9:12 am

“I think the MAIN reason why coach Dabo Swinney want this match up is to help him get the best recruits that normally enroll at SEC schools”

I think your right

SimpleDawg

March 28th, 2012
9:13 am

Dat Boy is at it again.

Interesting idea, but some of these “scrimmages” would be a full blown blood-letting.

Sounds great as long as none of our players get injured.

Dawg Haus

March 28th, 2012
9:14 am

Sounds good to me, so long as the scrimmages would be conducted in a similar fashion to the intrasquad games. No need for a player to get hurt before the season starts. It would be a great way to renew the rivalry with Clemson while keeping the conference schedule intact and also maintaining the “cupcake diet” of which most ADs are so fond.

Tide Pride

March 28th, 2012
9:18 am

•Georgia Tech vs. Alabama

Sorry, I can’t stop laughing. Even if this spring scrimmage were to happen, it would probably set up as a home and home series. That would mean that Tech would play in T-town and then the next year the game would be played in ATL. Can you see 100,000 Tide fans trying to cram into that 50,000 seat high school stadium where Tech plays? Saban would never stand for such nonsense

Tide Pride

March 28th, 2012
9:20 am

“Alabama has already backed out of regular season games against GA Tech”

Do you honestly think the Tide are afraid of Georgia Tech? Please tell me that you are joking

MG

March 28th, 2012
9:20 am

How is it that a guy who pees down his own leg every time Dana Holgerson’s name is mentioned thinks he can ‘revolutionize’ college football with an idea that’s not even original? If he would concentrate on actually learning how to coach instead of trying to get in front of a camera or on the front page of the sports section every day, he might truly be able to get Clemson football back on the right track.

Chris Roberts

March 28th, 2012
9:24 am

LOL Abo Sweeney revolutionize college football I couldn’t get pass the title.

Csonka

March 28th, 2012
9:24 am

I liked the idea initially, but the more I thought about it, there are several potential unintended consequences. I thought one of the benefits of a bowl bid is the additional practice time it generates, that in turn allows the opportunity to better assess your talent by giving those on the lower end of the depth chart additional reps? Dabo says a benefit of an inter-squad spring scrimmage is “You’re scrimmaging their defense, while your defense is on the sidelines. When your offense is out there, your defense is on the sidelines. ” But by doing so you’re automatically excluding “in-game” evaluation and valuable game experience of 50% of your roster. And we all know, particularly here in the South, that these games will quickly be elevated by the fanbases in importance to rival a regular season game, when in fact they don’t mean squat. I’m not sure a coach on the proverbial “hot seat” would like the idea either. Imagine the outcry last spring to oust Richt had Clemson beaten Georgia in a spring game. Or Dooley at UT, Zook in his Florida days, etc. Would those coaches, once the competitive juices started flowing, be more tempted to play their regulars longer in a game simply for appearance sake, even at the risk of roster evaluation? Maybe….maybe not. There’s just a lot of stuff to consider with this proposal.

Dawg Haus

March 28th, 2012
9:30 am

Tide Pride, I think Bama and Auburn should just switch partners. Tech and Auburn might have a little bad blood remaining from Tech’s SEC days, which could mean more excitement for the fans on both sides. Bama and FSU would provide a more entertaining matchup as Fisher spent some time coaching under Saban at LSU. I know I’d watch both of those games. What do you think?

nate from detroit

March 28th, 2012
9:41 am

Dabo raises a very interesting idea, however the cynic in me says it won’t happen anytime soon. In case you haven’t noticed, the NCAA moves at a snail’s pace when enacting any changes. I think it would be entertaining for UGA, GT, Georgia Southern and Georgia State to play a jamboree style scrimmage at the Georgia Dome at the culmination of spring practices.

Tide Pride

March 28th, 2012
9:43 am

@ Dawg Haus

I like what you are suggesting. Tech vs Auburn and Bama vs. Noles are much better matchups that the ones the article throws out there.

Tide Pride

March 28th, 2012
9:43 am

A person SMART enough to know......

March 28th, 2012
9:44 am

Yes lets do it. Nothing like putting 2 team against each other with nothing to win or lose. Lets see if a scrub doesn’t try to take out a very valuable player on the other team for the season. Hell No I will not pay for this kind of game. If we can have these GREAT match-up for Charity then WHY the Hell can’t we Pay to see them when they MATTER? Bama v Tech over Bama v Ga State during the season. UGa v Clemson over UGa v Ga Sou during the season.

Dabo & Dooley are the Mike Bobos of Head Coaching. They doesn’t deserve the job but they have the job.

George Stein

March 28th, 2012
9:44 am

Awesome idea! Let’s bring in more money for the schools and not pay the players a single penny. Anyone know what kind of other business supports this model?