Maybe you’ve heard about the so-called controversy at Clemson involving Clemson defensive end Andre Branch allegedly trying to gouge the eyes of Florida State offensive lineman David Spurlock last week. The video is making the rounds on the Web and there have been some that have called for Dabo Swinney to take action against Branch for the incident.
Swinney addressed the issue following practice Wednesday and essentially said the whole thing was much ado about nothing. As he put it, “I’ve seen worse on my 11- and 10-year-old’s teams. It’s football, it’s a fumble. There was no ill will toward anybody right there. Guy’s trying to dive for the ball, he doesn’t know where the ball is. No issue there at all. If I thought it was anything of malice, certainly we would deal with it.”
AUDIO: Swinney on Branch (1:22)
I’ve watched the play several times and really can’t tell what exactly happened. Yes, it does look like Branch has his hands on Spurlock’s facemask but I don’t see any evidence he was trying to do anything malicious. It was a fumble play and I’ve had more than one player tell me that all sorts of crazy things happen in the scrum for a loose football. I’ll spare you the details of what I’ve heard but trust me when I tell you that this is tame compared to those tales.
The bottom line is this story gained legs because of what happened two weeks ago with Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes trying to gouge a Georgia players eyes. He sat out last week’s game as punishment. Now I guess anytime someone’s hands get near someone’s eyes some people will immediately jump to conclusions.
I think Swinney sums it up pretty well:
“I think we’re a hyper-sensitive country. One little thing happens somewhere that was really not right, and then you start dissecting a football game. You’re going to see a lot worse than that.”