Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was right in not awarding a national championship ring to former starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, and it's hard to figure why this is even a debate.
Checking social media shows more than a few people are calling for Swinney's head over the matter. I had no idea that decorating Bryant's ring finger was a hill worth dying on, but regardless, he's got plenty of supporters.
In an interview with ESPN on Wednesday, Swinney was asked about Bryant not getting a ring after starting four games, then leaving the program when Swinney demoted Bryant to backup quarterback.
"He wasn't on the team," Swinney said simply. "You've gotta be on the team to get a ring. I love Kelly and appreciate what he did for us, but he decided to move on."
After practice Thursday, Swinney reiterated his stance to reporters: “I love Kelly. Got to be on the team (to get a ring). Certainly could’ve been here, but he wasn’t. That’s the way it is.”
He's correct, of course.
This has nothing to do with what Bryant did or didn't do in the four games he spent on the team. This has nothing to do with how pro franchises might handle a similar situation. They often will award rings and bonuses to players no longer on the team by the time the playoffs start. Also, getting released, traded, told to get lost, etc., isn't the same as quitting.
Bryant chose to leave the team after four games, rather than wait until the end of the year to transfer. It nearly cost the Tigers the following week against Syracuse. New starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence got hurt, and Clemson had to turn to Chase Brice to rally Clemson from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Probably not a lot of Clemson folks singing Bryant's praises that day.
Bryant, now at Missouri, certainly had the right to leave. It wasn't wrong of him to look out for his future and concentrate on what his best option might be.
It would've been generous of Swinney to give Bryant a championship ring, but why in the world would anyone think he owed one to somebody who quit the team?