Had Clemson defeated Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, Dabo Swinney may have had to miss the game due to an as-yet-undisclosed case of coronavirus.
To back things up: On Jan. 16, Clemson running back Darren Rencher and his girlfriend recorded a video in which the pair speak matter-of-factly about Swinney's COVID-19 diagnosis. Rencher's girlfriend says Dabo will appear via video during the Tigers' year-end banquet, which was to happen that night. “Coach Swinney’s got COVID," Rencher says at one point.
The video just came to light in a since-deleted tweet on Monday night. (The video itself is now private.)
Quoting that since-deleted tweet on Tuesday morning, Tiger Illustrated writer Larry Williams says Dabo had it and implies a number of staff members did as well.
Clemson did not confirm or deny whether Swinney ever had the virus, but he did appear virtually at the banquet. “I’m great, I’m really thankful for that. Have not had any issues or anything like that," he said, according to The State.
“We have been providing COVID testing data in aggregate on a weekly basis but aren’t able to discuss individuals’ personal health information without their consent (like those who provided us consent to announce before they missed competition),” Clemson said in a statement to the paper. “Coach Swinney is healthy and working on-site at the Allen N. Reeves Football Complex.”
That statement doesn't address whether Swinney ever had COVID-19, nor does it answer whether he'd have been able to coach in the Jan. 11 title game.
Ultimately we'll never know one way or the other, short of Dabo coming out and telling us. But this entire episode is a window into potentially massive news that could have played out, had the Sugar Bowl ended differently.