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Clemson Football

Dabo Swinney calls the last decade at Clemson "transformative"

January 12, 2020

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Dabo, you've been asked a lot about the last decade of Clemson football. If there was one word you could use to describe it, what would it be and why?

DABO SWINNEY: The last decade? Transformative. Is that a word? We've transformed Clemson, and the next decade is the Roaring '20s, so I'm excited about – I heard those were great. Hopefully we can relive those.

Dabo, possibly winning 30 straight games, that's only happened six times since the '50s, three out of four championships only happened three times, I think, back-to-back National Championships undefeated hasn't happened since Nebraska in the '90s. Do you give any of this information to your team to sort of say, hey, listen, you have a chance to not just be champions but to be all-time great champions?

DABO SWINNEY: Well, I mean, this is 2020. I don't have to give them anything. They just get woken up in the middle of the night with breaking alerts. I mean, the information is overloaded into their world today. So I don't have to give them anything. They see it. They hear it. It's a constant – they know.

Certainly we reinforce from time to time what their opportunity is, but it's not like we're giving them anything they don't know. They know. They're very well aware of what they've been able to achieve. And listen, regardless of what happens in the game tomorrow night, it's really been a historic run. To win two out of the last three National Championships is amazing. I'm just super proud of all of our teams that have worked so hard to just be the best they can be, and that's really our goal. That's it. Sometimes you get beat, and our goal is to be the best we can be every single year.

Winning a National Championship is a byproduct of that commitment. So just thankful for all of our teams, and they're well aware of all the opportunity and all that stuff, but that's really not the focus. I think when you focus on that, you're focusing on the magnitude of the moment and you lose the joy of the moment. That's all we try to focus on is just being great where our feet are and just have some fun doing what we do to get ready.

Coach, I understand that you had to move practice to the Hilton ballroom yesterday because of the weather, while LSU was in the palatial Saints indoor facility. How did that affect your preparation and will you have a walk-through today?

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, we might have had the best practice we had all year. We had the same opportunity to go to the palatial Saints facility. It's just crazy how people put these narratives out there right away. We had the same exact opportunity to go there, but we were going to have to change our schedule and just didn't want to do that, and obviously the weather was nasty, so it was great. I mean, it's massive, and this was – it was a Thursday practice for us, and our Thursday practices are kind of jog-through anyway, and this was practice nine, day 10 in a row that we've been together, so it was even lighter than that, it was a lot of fun, it was great energy.

I mean, listen, both these teams are ready to play. You can only practice so much.

It was a great practice. It was a great day. Thankful that we had a really good facility, and again, we could have done the exact same thing. I just chose not to change our schedule up and stay on course, and it's great.

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How do you define a dynasty in college football, and what's the earliest one that you guys remember?

DABO SWINNEY: A dynasty? I guess a team that wins a lot. That's the only thing I can think of. The first one? Shoot. Dynasty? For me personally, I think about Coach Bryant. I can't help but think about Coach Bryant. I grew up growing up in Alabama, and what he did in the '60s and the '70s, winning numerous National Championships, and there's some debate, probably could have won some more. Back in those days I guess you just kind of voted on them. I think some of those years you even voted on them before the bowl games.

Anyway, certainly Alabama, and then what Coach Saban has done, and I guess the definition is just doing something over and over and over with an unbelievable consistency.

You think about John Wooden. I know that's not football, but didn't he win 10 championships in a row? I think about the Bulls. I don't know about all the football dynasties. I don't think there's been many. It's just so hard to win consistently for a long period of time.

Bobby Bowden at Florida State, I think they had 14 10-plus win seasons in a row. I think Oklahoma probably had a run there. They were pretty unstoppable. That's kind of what pops into my head.

Dabo, this is the last drive for Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott as co-OCs. What have they meant to you up until now?

DABO SWINNEY: Oh, they're great. I've been at Clemson 17 years, so they've been with me really the whole way. Tony played for me, was a GA for me – not a GA but a captain for me. Jeff, when I came to Clemson, it was his senior year. He had just finished, and then so I kind of tutored and mentored him his first few years as he was getting into the business, and then he became a GA, and then when he was a GA when I was named interim, and so I promoted him right away, and that was just really based on my experience that I had had with him working with me in camps, all the – when I was an assistant I ran the camps and clinics and coaching – whatever went on within the program from a logistics standpoint, and I would use all the GAs and stuff, and Jeff was just always an above-and-beyond guy, and always knew if I ever got a job that he would be one of the first guys I hired. Just kind of worked out. So those guys have been with me from day one, and not just them, Brad Scott. Brad was the offensive coordinator when I came to Clemson. I'm not at Clemson if it wasn't for Brad. Obviously Tommy brought me in to interview me, but Brad had to sign off as the OC, and I've been with Brad for 17 years every step of the way.

So those guys have been great, but Tony and Jeff, it's been fun to watch them grow and develop, and then back in 2014 when we had an opening, I was able to just promote the two of them. They both deserved it, and so that's why I made them co-OCs, and they've done an amazing job, obviously, since that time.

I'm excited for Tony to be able to take it over just himself, and it will be awesome for him. And also a little bit more responsibility for Streeter, and then obviously Jeff getting this great opportunity at South Florida. Really happy for him.

Coach Swinney, when you played LSU in the Chick-Fil-a Bowl back in 2012, Brent Venables your defensive coordinator joked that a trick play for LSU was a play-action pass. Can you talk about how much LSU has changed offensively since then?

DABO SWINNEY: Yeah, well, if I remember correctly, they threw two passes on that last series, so they came out of the gate, 1st down, completed it, and then they had back-to-back play actions, incomplete on one and we batted one down. That gave us a chance to – because I was able to save time-outs and that gave us a chance to get the ball back and go win the game.

Ironic that you bring that up.

But listen, what I remember about that team is that's as talented a team, especially defensively, that I've ever been around. I mean, I've never – I think the entire two deep and maybe even into the three deep went to the NFL. We were very fortunate to win that game. I mean, we just made just enough plays. Our best player got hurt in the second game. But what they're doing offensively now is obviously way, way, way different. But they were a physical football team, and they still are, but yet now they're distributing the ball to so many different guys. I mean, everybody touches the ball, and it's made them fun. It's made them exciting. You can see they play with great confidence and energy, and then this quarterback is special.

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Dabo Swinney calls the last decade at Clemson "transformative"

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