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Dabo Swinney and Hugh Freeze: Christian College Coaches Under Fire

No matter your personal beliefs, America’s founding values allow us to worship and share our individual faith. It was so important to our founding fathers, it was the first amendment to the Constitution that makes up the Bill of Rights.

Our nation was founded in part due to the persecution and harassment of English people that refused to follow the “Church of England.” Catholics and other traditional protestants were labeled as traitors and criminal laws were enacted against Puritan worship services.

So, religious persecution is nothing new in the world and it continues even today. Even in the world of college football.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney will be facing off against the Alabama Crimson Tide on January 11th with the national title on the line.

While both Coach Swinney and Saban are obviously great football coaches, Clemson’s Swinney expresses a personal faith that has put a bullseye on his back.

The Freedom From Religon Foundation has threatned lawsuit against Clemson due to Swinney’s out spoken Christianity.

According to the “Foundation,” Swinney has promoted a culture in the program that promotes Christianity and violates constitutional guidelines of the separation of church and state as stipulated in the Establishment Clause of the first amendment.

The Foundation is essentially saying that Swinney’s personal views as a high profile employee of the University borders on the official views of the University.

This is not a new fight or discussion. While the concept of a separation of Church and State is not expressly written in those exact words that was the intent of founding father Thomas Jefferson as a way to more easily explain the first amendment.

The key argument on both sides of this age old battle is do the kids or staff under Swinney’s control have the freedom to worship or not worship in their own personal way? And does Swinney’s faith and his expression of that faith somehow infringe on those under his control?

While I won’t be able to settle that argument here in this article, I do want to make the point that Swinney does have the personal constitutional right to express his faith. His right to do so should be supported by all Americans who enjoy the same right.

In the Deep South, high school football coaches are notorious for preaching in the locker room and using bible verses and biblical narratives in their motivational speeches.

If you have ever played high school football you probably had at least one coach like that and certainly in Mississippi, that is the rule rather than the exception.

But for some reason the idea of a college coach using these same lessons and stories of faith and struggle and perservance is seen as heresy or even hypocritical.

Ole Miss’ Coach Hugh Freeze is one of those preacher type high school coaches that happened to make the quantum leap to become a SEC head coach.

Photo by Kevin Cox - Getty Images

Photo by Kevin Cox – Getty Images

Freeze coached at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis for 13 years and is the son of one of those preacher type head coaches as Danny Freeze coached at Independence and Senatobia High schools in Mississippi. The younger Freeze no doubt grew up in that environment, learning from his father and other coaches and continues that model.

For Freeze, his faith is more than a model, it is even more important than football itself. He has said that football is just the platform, the opportunity, to impact the lives of people in the program.  Freeze said in a Washington Post article in 2014 that, “When my life comes to an end, how much does that scoreboard really matter?”

Given the fact that Freeze hold many of the same thoughts we all do as football fans in the South, why does his words cause so much concern.

I am willing to bet if anyone else said that same sentence, you would absolutely agree. But because a college football coach says it, there is some hidden sinister agenda behind his words.

As you would expect, rival fan bases and blog posts highlight this minority opinion.

Sage writer “DawgSmack” posts this gem from Maroon and White Nation that says Hugh Freeze’s Gospel is actually a Gospel of Hate.

The manager of MSU fan blog 3rdand57 had some interesting twitter posts recently that I think really highlights this thought that somehow big time college football coaches are not allowed or are incapable of having “core values” without lying or fabricating their faith.

beastman freeze faith invert

I understand rival fans are irrational but wow, when you stand back from a distance, it is really disheartening that fellow Christians can stand by and toss accusations like this without recognizing that we all struggle with faith.

We all fall short of the ideal. We are all hypocrites in that way and saying someone else is not perfect is holding a football coach up to a weirdly high standard that they wouldn’t hold themselves to.

Will Hugh Freeze make mistakes in his life, of course. Will God help Dabo Swinney beat the “evil” Nick Saban Alabama empire?  I hope my God has more to do on that Monday.

We need to stand with other men who are brave enough to take a stand and in the heat of the national media spotlight make their beliefs known.  Why would anyone work for a boss that only cares about winning and winning only?

Because at the end of our days, the scoreboard and the color of our jacket wont matter.

You don’t have to be a fan of Ole Miss or Clemson to appreciate men like Hugh Freeze and Dabo Swinney.

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson - Photo via Grant Halverson - Getty Images

College Football Playoff Preview: The Clemson Tigers

This time, we go back two years ago with the Clemson Tigers.

Defending ACC Atlantic Division Co-Champs and 11-2 after a Chic-Fil-A Bowl win.  If could ever beat Florida State they could win their ACC division and likely the conference.

It was another rough outing against the Seminoles.  Clemson entered the game ranked eighth  in the nation, 6-0 and playing in Death Valley against redshirt-freshman and eventual Heisman Winner, Jameis Winston. It looked like a hard battle for the young FSU QB, until the game started.

A very lopsided game was the result.  A final of 51-14 for Florida State.  Clemson could not get a shot at the ACC title as Florida State went unbeaten. The Tigers did win the 2013 Orange Bowl against Ohio State that year, 40-35.

In 2014; with no more Tahj Boyd, Clemson had to find a QB.  Without a proven starter, Clemson traveled to Tallahassee.  Sean Maguire started in place of the suspended Jameis Winston.  A boring, low scoring game went to OT and Clemson fell short again 23-17.

Season in a Snapshot

Going in to 2015, Clemson finally had a QB they could rely on in Dashaun Watson.  With star defensive end Vic Beasley gone, the question was defense.  After a stormy 24-22 win over the Fighting Irish, the question was answered.  They were/are good enough.

A few weeks later would come the ultimate test.  Florida State entered with one loss, Clemson again unbeaten, but the Tigers finally break through 23-13, and make it to the ACC championship game.

Facing off against a one loss North Carolina, Clemson survived over the surprisingly offensive minded Tar Heel’s 45-37.  The Tigers were helped by a controversial off-sides call that went their way and they recovered an on-side kick to end the late UNC rally.

Team Strengths

Clemson has a really high powered pass offense. The pass rush is elite.  The passing game creates running opportunities.

Team Weaknesses

The overall defense is average at best.   If you can contain QB Dashaun Watson, you shut down half the offense due to the system.

Playoff Forecast

Even with the best QB and the best spread in the playoffs, Clemson will still have to make stops to win games.  And the late game rally’s by opponents will have to be prevented. If they can, they have a great shot at winning the College Football Playoff.

Well thanks for reading again!

Next up is a preview of the Oklahoma Sooners.

cfp-trophy

NCAA Championship Weekend Preview

What a wild football season.  We were very close to seeing some different names on the field this weekend.

We are a fourth and 25 conversion from seeing Ole Miss in the SEC championship game over Alabama.  We are one third and long stop from seeing Tennessee in the game over Florida.

One shanked field goal would give us Ohio State and two unbeaten teams in the Big Ten Game.  Or even a controversial call going the other way would still result in a battle of un-beaten’s in Lucas Oil stadium.

No matter how they got there, we are still left with some great Conference Championship Games. And here’s a quick guide in what you need to know.

SEC Championship: Alabama vs Florida

What’s On The Line?

For Florida, it’s a birth into a New Year’s Six Bowl and a shot to ruin Alabama’s and the SEC’s New Year’s celebration plans.

For Alabama, it’s to solidify the season and get a shot for the national title game.

Keys To The Game

For Florida, slow down Derek Henry, and limit turnovers.

For Alabama, DO NOT PLAY DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL like you did against Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas…

Prediction – Alabama wins a surprisingly tight game 24-21

PAC-12 Championship: Stanford vs USC

What’s On The Line?

For both teams, realistically a shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Keys To The Game.

For USC, slow down Kevin Hogan and Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey.

For Stanford, play smart and execute the game plan. I know it sounds cliche but Stanford cannot assume a 8-4 team will be a bye week.

Prediction – USC will remain as the seasons most under achieving team and only score because of the talent 28-10, Stanford.

Big Ten Championship- Michigan State vs Iowa

What’s On The Line?

As of right now, this is the only game that’s a guaranteed play-in to the College Football Playoffs.

Keys To The Game.

For the Spartans, let Connor Cook tear up Iowa. Let the pass open the run game and we should get ready to watch a blowout.

For Iowa, play TEAM ball. Iowa WILL be losing this game. All that matters though is if they can respond and come up with a game plan to make Sparty pay for using Cook.

Prediction – Iowa will leave without a Big Ten Championship and the better talent will take over.  35-17 Sparty.

ACC Championship- North Carolina vs Clemson

What’s On The Line?

For Clemson this title will mean they are out of the past and finally getting to the big spotlight.

For UNC, however this is a chance to go to the CFP and win a title. Something no other college in the state of North Carolina can say. Although the only realistic chance UNC gets in is if they blow out Clemson

Keys To The Game.

For Clemson is getting those Clemson receivers open and not letting Marquise Williams get the better of them.

For UNC, it’s protecting Williams and making sure DeShaun Watson doesn’t have a career day.

Prediction – UNC and Clemson both struggled with South Carolina, but based on track record of the past two seasons and what talent is out there.  Marquise Williams is way more versatile than Deshaun Watson, but not the better QB.  I have Clemson 28-7.

Hope y’all enjoyed!