Things worked out pretty well for Clemson football last winter. The Tigers ran through Notre Dame and Alabama in back-to-back blowouts to capture a second national title under Dabo Swinney.
It’s easy to forget that there were serious concerns about Clemson entering the College Football Playoff. Three players, including one superstar, were suspended for the post-season after testing positive for a banned substance.
Dexter Lawrence, an All-ACC performer, was the big loss for the Playoff push. Luckily, Clemson was able to manage with just its other three superstar defensive linemen, and win the title.
Lawrence went on to be a first-round pick by the New York Giants.
The failed tests aren’t without lingering impact though. Offensive lineman Zach Giella chose to forego his final year of eligibility, as he was set to be suspended for this upcoming season. Tight end Braden Galloway is the big lasting loss, as he likely would have taken on a big role this season, but instead won’t be able to return until the post-season.
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich calls the failed tests last December an “outlier,” and isn’t concerned moving forward.
He says that Clemson hasn’t revamped its drug testing program, in lieu of the situation with the three 2018 Tigers.
From the Associated Press:
In the seven months since the ban, Clemson has double and triple checked how it handles everything from talc in the weight room to the protein shakes it provides to ensure the wrong things won’t cost players time on the field.
“We’ve always looked at a really robust and fundamentally sound drug-testing program,” Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said. “We’ve always looked at how we get our supplements into our students’ hands.”
Radakovich sees last year’s failed tests as a rare breakdown and not a signal that the department’s process needed an overhaul. “This was such an outlier, I don’t know” if there were any lessons the school could take out of it that weren’t already in place, he said.
The situation remains unfortunate for Galloway, who was probably in line for a much-expanded role this fall. Hopefully Clemson doesn’t face similar issues this season.
Will this be enough to stop any backlash that comes from the outside? We will follow it all season.