Just over a week ago, Clemson’s head football coach, Dabo Swinney, named freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence the starter for the Tigers’ week five game against Syracuse. Lawrence, who had seen playing time in the first four games of the season, was hit during the first half of the game this past weekend and left the game with an apparent head injury. Lawrence was replaced by third string quarterback Chase Brice, who would come in to finish a surprisingly close game for the Tigers, with a narrow 4-point margin of victory.
On Tuesday, September 25, Kelly Bryant, who was Clemson’s starter for the first four games, as well as the starter who replaced Deshaun Watson (now in the NFL with the Houston Texans) after he graduated, announced he would transfer out of the program as a result of being replaced as the starter.
Bryant watched his replacement get replaced on Saturday before halftime. I would imagine what most people say when a starter gets beat out for their job is, “Keep working, what if they get injured? You’ll be back in!” While none of us could have envisioned the future and known Bryant would end up going back in had he not decided to transfer, it’s ironic to watch Clemson finish the game with a guy who, a week ago, was a third string quarterback.
Now, on the athletic side of things, the transfer rules and how many players we see transfer — not just at the end of every season but during the spring, summer and during the season — has taken a bizarre front seat to college football. Understandably, players are trying to better themselves and play in front of NFL scouts who will go back and tell their football operations staff to draft them.
But what ever happened to keeping your head down and working even harder to get back something you’ve lost?
I see a bigger social issue at the root of all these college football transfers. I think that society as a whole, and the generations of kids now in elementary, high school and university (and maybe even those in their early to mid-twenties) severely lack the resilience gene. Of course there will always be exceptions to the rule, there are most certainly kids, teens and adults who display an enormous amount of resilience and grit in their everyday life. But, what happened at Clemson this week — it sheds light on a major issue in our society that looks to be getting worse by the day.
Lets stay with college football: Joe Burrow, who is now the starter at Louisiana State (LSU) was formerly an Ohio State Buckeye — for four years — before he decided to transfer to LSU. Burrow put in his work as a back-up to JT Barrett, and again this spring was behind the likes of younger quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell. Burrow, I think, is a scenario everyone can get on board with. He fought for four years to win a starting job that, he just wasn’t going to get. He didn’t leave after one year, or two, he lasted as long as he could and transferred out to find a school where all his work would pay off. Now, Burrow is starting for LSU and sitting at 5-0. Burrow showed up in Baton Rouge and outworked the guys who were already there.
Bryant lost the starting job, and decided to transfer out of the program two days later. Yes, he said he didn’t feel he had ever done anything wrong and had done everything that was asked of him. Sure — that may be true — for arguments sake, let’s say he did everything he could and worked as hard as anyone else. So, what ever happened to work and try to get what you want back?
I think the lack of resiliency overall is a plague to society. Too many first reactions are to quit or go find somewhere else to play sports, find a different teacher who doesn’t mark as hard, find a new place to work because your boss holds you accountable to your job description. It’s a weak way of living. Build some resiliency, have some toughness and grit and outwork your opponent, because in most of these cases, if not all, your biggest opponent is yourself.