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Swinney’s Tuesday Press Conference

Swinney’s Tuesday Press Conference

Dabo Swinney held his weekly press conference prior to the Boston College game on Tuesday, October 13. Below is a transcript of what the Tigers’ head coach had to say. Press the ‘Play’ button on the image to view the press conference.

Opening Statement:

“Today is October 13th and seven years ago today I got the opportunity to be the interim head coach. So today is a special day for me, a day of reflection. I thought about it a few days ago and actually mentioned it to the team. Over a seven-year period it’s just amazing to be what we’ve been able to get accomplished as a program. We set out in 2008 to change the culture here, to create a better brand and to do things the right way. I’m so thankful for that group of guys that bought into the message and for all the players that have come through here. I’m forever grateful to Tommy Bowden and Terry Don Phillips for giving the opportunity to be here at Clemson and to be the head coach here. It’s ironic that when I was hired we were getting ready to play Georgia Tech and Boston College and now we just got finished with Georgia Tech and we’re about to play Boston College. My first ever win was over Boston College.”

“Boston College is always tough. They are a challenge each and every year. Coach Addazio does a great job. His team reflects and plays with his personality. He’s a fighter, a winner and a tough hard-nosed guy and that’s how BC plays. I have a lot of respect for their program. Offensively, they’ve had some change at quarterback and some injuries but they do present some challenges. They have the most personnel groupings that we’ve seen and a million formations. They want to run the football and be physical. We’ve got to do a great job defensively. Defensively, they have eight starters back and right now; they are the standard in college football. They’re number one in the nation in rush defense, pass defense and first down defense. They’re second in the nation in scoring defense and third down defense and they are fifth in tackles for loss. This is a team that’s played Northern Illinois that took Ohio State to the last minute. They’ve played a really good Duke team and lost 9-7. They’ve only had one offensive touchdown scored on them all year and they’ve played six games. This is definitely the best defense we’ve seen and they know what they’re doing. Schematically, they present some real challenges with some unique blitz looks. It will be a big challenge for our offense. This is one of those games where you need to make a bunch of competitive plays. Either you win your matchup for you don’t. It’s really that simple. It’s homecoming, which is always a special time here at Clemson. Hopefully it will be a dry day. We look forward to getting back out there in Death Valley and competing against a good BC team.”

On Steve Spurrier reaction:

“I had a chance to talk with him this morning and really appreciated the chance to visit with him. It’s ironic that the birth of my head-coaching career is the day he’s going to retire. He’s great for college football. I have a ton of respect for him and what he’s done for the game of college football. I have been competing against Coach Spurrier all the way back to 1989. I remember vividly when he came to Florida because he was different. He brought a different philosophy to the game and he changed a lot of things in college football. All those years he was at Florida, I was at Alabama and we played in several SEC Championships together. I actually sacked his punter in the first SEC Championship game and I think he threw his visor. Then I went on as a coach at Alabama competing against him and recruiting against Florida and Coach Spurrier. Then obviously coming here to Clemson and competing against him ever since he’s been at South Carolina. He’s been consistent throughout his career as to who he is. He’s always been himself and he’s a winner. Look at what he did at Duke and bringing an ACC Championship to Duke at that time. He took South Carolina to a place that they had never seen before as a program so you have to give him a lot of credit for that. And certainly what he did at Florida with the SEC Championships and National Championship and the players they had. He’s one of the best to walk the sidelines. We really have a mutual respect for one another and usually once or twice a year we have functions that we would get together and eat dinner together. I wish them nothing but the best as they move into retirement. I bet it won’t be the last time we hear from Coach Spurrier. I’m sure he will be relevant in college football for many years to come.”

On the pressure facing college football coaches:

“I didn’t feel emotional because of pressure Saturday night, I felt emotional because it was a stupid question. There were a few more things I would have liked to have said. There’s pressure in anything. The business of college football from a coaching standpoint has changed. There’s more pressure on the AD’s and it’s a shame see what’s being going on. It’s hard to win a game much less consistently year in and year out. I don’t see it as pressure, personally. I’m paid a lot of money to do a job I love to do. I understand the business of it and I understand it’s a game of performance but I’ve never really focused on that aspect of it. I lean on my faith and I try to stay grounded in that. I don’t get too high or too low whether we’ve had a good game or bad game. I just give it all to the good Lord to be honest with you. When it’s time for me to move on I know He will have something else in store for me. As far as the world of college football, it’s certainly more and more of an issue. That’s just the world we’re in. The money and things like that put more pressure on everybody. I don’t live my life that way. My pressure is on being a good husband, a good father and keeping balance in my life and not getting sucked into the world.”

On the Clemson vs. South Carolina rivalry:

“This isn’t a negative to South Carolina, it’s just a reality about South Carolina’s program. All you have to do is look at the history and the facts they only had one 10-win season in a hundred years before Coach Spurrier. This game nationally was not that big of a deal. Alabama and Auburn nationally have always had bigger implications. The rivalry part is the same, but with what Coach Spurrier did at South Carolina I’m the fortunate one to have been at Clemson during the greatest run in the history of the school. How many top-10 match-ups have you had historically in the Clemson/South Carolina game? Clemson, historically, has always been the better team, historically. There were some runs either way, but pretty much heavy, heavy Clemson. Even from a ranking standpoint. To have the games that we have had, a top-10 a couple of years ago for the first time ever, now the national implications of that game have changed drastically. And certainly with the personality of Coach Spurrier and the success that he’s had over his career it certainly brought a more national audience to the this rivalry and now people are much more aware of it.”

On beating South Carolina in 2008 and what it did for his career:

“It kept me at Clemson. I have no idea where I would be. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job. I think Terry Don Philips was hoping I could get the job and it made it hard for them not to give me the opportunity at that point. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job if I hadn’t beaten them. But I didn’t feel pressure; I had a total peace at what we had been able to do with that team. I knew that if the door closed here that the good Lord was going to open one somewhere else.”

On the primary challenges facing an interim head coach who takes over mid-season:

“There’s a lot of challenge because you go from wearing one hat to wearing thirty hats. It’s really hard to prepare for that. I had no inclination at all until Tommy Bowden says, ‘I’m stepping aside’ and the AD walks in and says, ‘you’re the head coach, see me in five minutes.’ I didn’t have a clue. It’s a huge transition. There’s a lot of emotion involved. You’ve got a lot of factions and a whole football team who did not come there for you to be their head coach. But you have to push all that aside and you have to get everybody to understand that it’s bigger than any one person. At the end of the day, you have an opportunity to send a message that you’re not going to quit. That you’re going to stand up and compete and do what’s best for your school and your program. Those seniors deserve an opportunity to have the best chance to finish as strong as possible. You have to try to create some positivity and some energy and rally the troops. You go from one of the staff to a leader of the staff and it’s tough.”

On Coach Spurrier’s resignation:

“People are going to have their opinions and everybody is entitled to their opinion but at the end of the day everybody has to make their own decisions and live with that decision. Sometimes what you think is right, other people vehemently think is wrong. I’m not going to sit here and put myself in his shoes and judge Coach Spurrier or anything like that. He’s got a long legacy and he’s 70 years old. I’m going to have to coach until 71 so I can one up him so I’ve got a long way to go.”

On the back and forth between Coach Swinney and Coach Spurrier:

“In terms of talking that’s just kind of who he is. He’s been that way his whole career. He would say something about me and I would be like, ‘I can’t believe he said that.’ And I would make a comment back but then he would be the first one to call me and reach out to me. He’s reached out a couple of times to offer me encouragement. He called me a couple years ago when we got beat down there in Columbia. We just dominated that game and somehow we lose the game and he called me after the game and that’s exactly what he said. He said, ‘Man, ya’ll just kicked our butt but you couldn’t hang onto the ball’. Then he called me after the Georgia game last year. Listen, there’s that side of him that persona that people see, sometimes he says things he wished he hadn’t said or said a different way, but he has never been to a point where I didn’t have respect for him or vice-versa.”

On the Spurrier quote that stands out to him:

“The funniest one to me is someone asked me about me and Coach Spurrier and I just said that we get along, we’re fine, we’re just different. He’s from Mars, I’m from Pluto. You know, we’re just different in ways. And it was just an easy comment that next thing you know it’s all over ESPN that he’s from Mars and I’m from Pluto. Then he comes back and says, ‘I don’t think Dabo knows Pluto ain’t a planet anymore’. So I’m like dadgum Pluto was a planet when I was at Alabama. I missed that news flash along the way. Then low and behold we finally beat them suckers last years and guess what has happened? Pluto has made a comeback. Pluto is now a planet once again. He’s just one of the best at picking up on what somebody says and having some fun with it, but again he’s always one of those guys that always said what’s on his mind. He’s always tried to do things the right way.”

On Spurrier’s offensive innovation:

“He’s contributed a ton. In 1996, I remember when we played them, he went all shotgun. It was a totally different deal. He really changed it when he started going three and four wides and throwing the ball down the field. There’s no question he changed the way people started thinking offensively and forced defenses to have to change as well.”

On Christian Wilkins:

“He’s a special talent and a great person. He’s enjoying his Clemson experience. He has great practice habits and is a very cerebral player. He’s easy to coach and he’s just gifted with his football ability. He’s just going to get better and better.”

On Zac Brooks:

“He’s a leader. He’s a guy that all our guys have respect for because of all the injuries he has fought through. Our players have seen the best of Zac. He was going to be our starter next year and bam, he was out. He’s always had a great attitude and just kept going. He sets a great example for his teammates and inspires his teammates. What people don’t know about Zac is that he is one of the best leaders we have on this football team. He has a vision of what he wants to be in the future. Even when he was hurt and couldn’t play, he was one of the best leaders we had on this team. He’s finally healthy and he’s gotten his confidence back and hopefully we can continue to see him blossom and reap the fruits of his labor. He’s going to be incredibly successful in life.”

On when the culture began to change at Clemson:

“2010 because of how our team responded that year. The first year we win the division and play in the championship game and we thought we were going to do this every year. But in 2010, we were so good on defense but we were kind of transitioning. We just didn’t have some of the playmakers yet. But how our guys competed that year and what I saw in the locker room and the practice field really indicated the change. I saw a team that never quit or pointed fingers. We had five losses by six points or less that year and it was brutal. Yet, I could see the seeds taking root. You have to fail to grow, that’s the reality of life. We had some failure that year but the foundation was taking root of what we were trying to do with the culture of this program. After the season, I told Terry Don Philips we were headed in the right direction. That year really gave the chance to point the program in the direction I wanted. I kept everybody on my staff and tried to make it all work. I continued to grow as a head coach and we’ve been building one year, one game, one success and one adversity at a time.”

“I’m really proud of what we’ve done in seven years. It has not been perfect and there are still some things we’ve got to get done but I think that we’ve become a model of consistency in college football. And not just on the field. Five out of my six years we’ve been top-10 academically. We are not a perfect program. We have young people that make mistakes too. Every decision that we make has been based on how we fulfill the vision of the program. I have great respect for Tommy Bowden and the opportunity he gave me to come coach here and the growth he gave me here. I had an opportunity to go join Coach Saban’s staff at offensive coordinator in 2007 and I didn’t go because of the conversations I had with Tommy Bowden six months before. I knew where I stood on his staff and I felt like staying at Clemson was the best thing for me. If I were so concerned about a title and chasing a title, I wouldn’t have been here and had the opportunities I’ve had. The grass ain’t always greener. For me, all the sudden I was 38 years old and I was a head coach. I’ve never been driven by what other people think about me but I am driven by what people think about our program and our team and the type of young men we have in our program. I’m passionate about the brand we have at Clemson. I’m passionate about winning and winning the national championship at Clemson. We’ve been working toward that and hopefully one of those days it will happen and if we stay the path, it will.”

On the media wanting to talk about the past:

“It’s an agenda. It’s bias people who are uneducated and ignorant. They don’t do their homework. Since the last time we lost to an unranked team (2011), there have been 50 different ranked programs that have lost to an unranked team 112 times. But yet I have to be asked in 2015 about it. That’s a lack of respect for our program. There’s not one guy on this roster that’s ever lost a game to a ranked team. We’re way beyond that. People who don’t recognize that have their own agenda. There are not three other schools in the country as consistent as Clemson.”

On Nick Schuessler’s drive at the end of the Georgia Tech game:

“We got the ball at our goal line with eight minutes and 50 seconds and we took eight minutes and 30 seconds off the clock with our twos. It was huge. They got the ball with 20 seconds left. That was a thing of beauty to see our backups go out there and go from goal line to goal line and end the game. It was great execution and great job by our guys up front too.”

On educating his players about illegal substances:

“They all know. Everybody knows. It was a great opportunity (the Will Grier suspension) to revisit that with our guys. If you’re going to take something, even if it’s over the counter, you have to get it approved. You play by the rules and if you don’t, you’re going to be held accountable regardless of your intent. We do everything we can to make these guys aware and make sure they understand they are accountable for what they put in their body.”

On Mike Williams’ status:

“Everything is really positive with Mike Williams, he’s doing great. In another few weeks he could be in a soft cast. He’s doing very well. I’m tickled to death that he’s going to be just fine. I don’t have any expectation for him to play this year. It would be great but that’s the least of my concerns. I have no expectation for that whatsoever. I’m happy that he’s going to play next year for sure. His football career is very bright. If he decides to move on next year and play at the next level then that’s his decision to make but I hope he plays here next year. His career is very bright and far from over.”

On the play of Hunter Renfrow:

“I’m not surprised at all. We’re at practice everyday. Hunter can play. If he were the size he is now, he would have had everybody recruiting him out of high school. He had a lot of offers coming out of high school. He was so small. Now, he’s stronger and he’s still just a freshman. He’s going to get better but he is fast and explosive. He’s a very instinctive football player and he’s our backup punter, don’t forget about that. He’s just a good football player and we’re very fortunate to have him. He’s a legit division one scholarship wide receiver, there’s not doubt about that. Every now and then you get lucky. We knew he was very talented but we offered him an opportunity to come in here and he was confident enough that he could come do it. Within a year he earned himself a scholarship. I’ve known his dad for a long time. So we’ve known about Hunter for a long time. He was a great student and just a premium guy. So we brought him in on an official visit and he went and earned it. He’s worked his tail off. He’s going to go above and beyond and his body has responded. He’s got good length to him. I think he had the fastest shuttle time on our team. He played quarterback too so he has outstanding ball skills. He looks like a chemist or something but you put him between the lines and man, he’s a player. He’s got a bright future. I’m very pleased with the development of our four freshman receivers, Trevion [Thompson], Ray Ray [McLoud], Deon [Cain] and Hunter. Those guys are going to allow us to continue to be wide receiver U as they say.”