Before Clemson’s Cotton Bowl matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the team was notified that three of their players had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, offensive lineman Zach Giella, and tight end Braden Galloway were suspended for both the Cotton Bowl and national championship game against Alabama after testing positive for ostarine. The players were initially very confused and were convinced that the positive result was a mistake. Once the secondary samples also came back from the lab with a positive result, the suspension was upheld. Without these three players, Clemson still went on to smoke Alabama in the championship game 44-16. The three players are, however, suspended for the 2019 season.

On February 9th, head coach Dabo Swinney was quoted as saying the following when asked about how the players could have tested positive:

“Oh yeah, I mean, there’s a chance that it could come from anything. They’re going to test everything and look at everything. And that’s the problem. As you really look at this stuff, it could be a contaminant that came from anything, that was something that was cleared and not a problem, and all of a sudden, it becomes there was something.”

– The Post and Courier, Feb. 9th, 2019

Hmmmmm. Very suspicious. Performance enhancing drugs don’t just fall out of the sky and into a college football player’s bloodstream. So what actually happened? Who is to blame? Was it caused by outside sabotage? Who can actually be trusted? Is the U actually back?

Let’s dive into this little mystery.

What is ostarine?

According to the US Anti-Doping Agency, ostarine (the trademarked name for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, or SARM’s) is a steroid that has the “advantage of androgen-receptor specificity, tissue selectivity, and the lack of steroid-related side effects”. I’m not a biologist, but from what I can gather, it’s a performance enhancing drug that builds muscle fast and has less effect on hormonal balances, like testosterone, than other steroids like it. SARM’s have been prohibited by the USADA since 2008. Traditionally, ostarine is taken orally once or twice a day in the form of a pill or in a solution.

How did the ostarine get into the players’ system?

According to Dabo, Clemson might have accidentally given the players the ostarine by giving them supplements spiked with the PED. Apparently, supplement companies have been known to illegally put high levels of ostarine in their products without telling anyone. This is obviously a big no-no, and would essentially clear both the players and the program of any wrongdoing. However, if this was the case, how is it possible that only three out of the twenty players tested came back with a positive result? Is it possible that this is just a coincidence?

My opinion: hell no.

Possible Suspects

Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Staff

My first theory is the obvious one. Dabo and his gang of Clemson yes-men were secretly trying to increase the size, strength, and speed of the players on their team. Steroid use almost always leads to increased performance on the field, and with Clemson always in the national championship hunt, it would make sense that Swinney wanted to make sure his players were in peak physical condition. It would be so easy. The strength and conditioning coach, under Dabo’s direction, could easily spike the weight room Gatorade jug while no one was looking. Next thing you know, Lawrence and Co. are even more yoked than normal.

With all that being said, I don’t think the religious man that is Dabo Swinney would have the motive to cheat. Plus, why stop at three players? And why risk one of your defensive stars getting caught cheating? Because of these points, I think we can rule out Dabo.

Nick Saban and the Alabama Staff

My next theory involves outside sabotage from the Godfather of college football, Nick Saban. Saban obviously had the motive of taking away one of Clemson’s main defensive weapons before they inevitably met in the national championship. It probably wouldn’t be that hard. You would just need to have a staff member dress up in Clemson gear, walk right on into the Clemson football facility, and dump the ostarine right into a Gatorade jug for any of the Tigers to drink. Easy peasy, lemon-Gatorade-squeezy.

However, Saban is already cheating in other ways, like using his car dealerships to give free cars to recruits. It’d be too hard for him to keep track of all these schemes. Plus, there’s also still the fact that only three players tested positive for PED’s. An outside man with no internal connections wouldn’t have the ability to only target three players. This was a precise and targeted operation. I don’t think it was Jolly St. Nick, but feel free to ask him if he did it yourself:

So because Saban has also been ruled out, that only leaves us with one probable suspect…

Steve Spurrier

That’s right. I think “Head Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier himself performed the deed. Before you scoff, let me lay out my case.

During his tenure out South Carolina, Spurrier had a 7-6 record against Clemson, the school’s bitter in-state rival. Spurrier left South Carolina in 2015, and had a 5-2 record against Swinney. With Clemson rising to their current elite status in college football, and after losing his last game to the Tigers in 2014, I think Spurrier wanted to remind Dabo who Daddy was and take him down a few pegs, even after all these years.

Motive: check.

Spurrier is currently the head coach of the AAF football team in Orlando, the Orlando Apollos. He has officially been the Apollos head coach since April 2018. Say what you will about his new job, but I have a hard time believing a previously retired and legendary college football coach living in Orlando is going to be completely swamped at work. I mean, it’s a brand new league attempting to establish its own identity. There’s not that much pressure on him to perform, which would leave plenty of time to plot his final revenge against his most bitter rival when he’s not hitting the golf course for a quick 18. Meanwhile, he could easily hide behind the fact that he’s two states away working as a head coach in the AAF.

Convenient alibi: check.

During Spurrier’s 12 year tenure at the University of Florida, he went 122-27-1. He was a five-time SEC Coach of the Year, and won the 1996 national championship. Obviously, with this kind of success, the “Head Ball Coach” would have a lot of pull at his former institution. Do you know what else the University of Florida is famous for? The most popular sports drink in the US, Gatorade, was created in the 1960’s by University of Florida researchers.
According to the school’s website, “the university has received more than $280 million in royalties from Gatorade, resources that are invested in a wide variety of research”. Clearly, the Gators and Gatorade are joined at the hip. My theory is that Spurrier used his status at the university to get the king of sports drinks to secretly spike the Clemson players’ Gatorade at their facility. How would they go about doing making sure the players were ingesting the drugs? Well, Gatorade conveniently has their “Fuel Bar” set up right inside the weight room at the Allen N. Reeves facility.

Here, they could directly control which players were taking the PED’s. Coincidence? I think not. Dexter Lawrence was an obvious pick, since he directly affected the defensive line’s production. The other two players were only targeted to throw everyone off the scent.

Means and method: check and mate.

I realize it seems like a stretch, and I know I don’t have all the pieces yet. But I’m onto you, Spurrier…