Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins has been suspended for the first two games of the season as a result of his May arrest on drug charges, the school announced Friday evening.
Watkins will miss the season opener against Auburn in Atlanta on Sept. 1 and the home opener against Ball State on Sept. 8.
“I told Sammy this past May that there would be a high end [number of games] and a low end, and it would be up to him as to the length of his suspension,” coach Dabo Swinney said in a prepared statement. “He has done everything we have asked and then some, so the two-game suspension is the low end."
The low end?
Two full games?
And Watkins did everything they asked and then some?
This is harsh. (I can't believe I just wrote that.) Usually athletes tend to be under-punished. Not this time. Dabo the Disciplinarian made sure of it. One of the best players in the country -- the ACC's preseason player of the year -- won't play against Auburn, a team he torched last year for 155 yards and two touchdowns receiving. Based on everything Swinney had said leading up to this announcement -- that Watkins had done everything asked of him, and he seemed genuinely remorseful and embarrassed about the whole situation -- I thought Watkins would be suspended for the first half against Auburn. I thought he'd run some bleachers. Do some up-downs. Get an extra study hall or 10. You know, things like that.
Instead, he'll sit out for one of the Tigers' most anticipated games of the season.
Clemson's offense and special teams obviously will miss Watkins against Auburn, but what makes the Tigers so dangerous on offense is that Watkins is hardly their only option. They've got a 1,000-yard rusher in Andre Ellington. A 978-yard receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. And a 3,000-yard passer in Tajh Boyd.
Clemson will still score against Auburn.
The fans -- and the final stat sheets -- likely will miss Watkins more.
Swinney has set a standard of discipline, though, and sent a message to his players with this suspension. Not even a Heisman candidate is above the rules.
Good luck to the player who winds up on the "high end" of Swinney's sanctions.