According to any reference source, quarterback Kelly Bryant was a member of the 2018-19 Clemson Tigers. The 2018-19 Clemson Tigers won the College Football Playoff. Members of championship teams typically receive championship rings.
And yet, Bryant won’t be receiving a championship ring. His coach finally gave the reason why on Wednesday.
No ring for Kelly Bryant, according to Dabo Swinney
According to ESPN, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said that Bryant didn’t receive a ring simply because he wasn’t on the team:
"He wasn't on the team. You've gotta be on the team to get a ring," Swinney told ESPN. "I love Kelly and appreciate what he did for us, but he decided to move on."
It’s Swinney and Clemson’s right to hold that policy, but it’s definitely a cold move toward a player that went 16-2 as the Tigers’ starter and led the team to the Playoff the year before its championship run.
Bryant wasn’t the answer for Clemson, but he was part of the equation
Usually, you see championship teams give rings to just about every player who was part of the team at some point during the season, the idea being that even if they weren’t part of the team at the end, they still made a real contribution to a championship.
And Bryant definitely made a contribution to Clemson’s championship season. Bryant posted 461 passing yards and 130 rushing yards in four games for the Tigers last year.
It’s very arguable the team doesn’t go undefeated without Bryant’s 12-for-17, 205-yard performance against Texas A&M in a 28-26 Week 2 win, a game in which freshman wunderkind Trevor Lawrence struggled at times. Without that win, Clemson possibly doesn’t even make the playoffs.
Of course, Swinney still chose to name Lawrence the full-time starter two weeks later, a decision that was fully vindicated in January when Lawrence torched Alabama in the national championship game. Bryant reacted by opting to transfer midseason, eventually ending up at Missouri where he won’t be eligible for the postseason in his senior year.
Because of that decision to further his career rather than stay with a team that would have likely kept him on the bench until he graduated, Bryant’s contribution to Clemson’s championship was apparently forfeit. It might not be a popular decision, but Lord knows that Swinney has gladly dug his heels into unpopular opinions before.
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