Prior to Swinney's few weeks in 2009 as the interim head coach at Clemson, the highest level he'd reached was wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.
"He had the guts to hire me," Swinney said on Thursday, several hours after Phillips announced his plans to retire as the school's athletic director.
"One of the most special moments for me that I'll never forget was being able to hand him that ACC Championship trophy. That was really special, something I'll never forget. He believed in me and what we're trying to do here."
Swinney noted a few of the positives that have happened around Clemson since Phillips arrived 10 years ago.
"It's just incredible, from a facilities standpoint," Swinney said. "I know it hasn't all been easy, but he's been persistent and he's persevered. He has really given us a chance to compete at the highest level again.
"From a facilities standpoint, from a staff standpoint -- the contracts, all that kind of stuff, he's changed the playing field here at Clemson. I'm so appreciative of the opportunity we have. It just keeps getting better."
MOVING INDOORS: Thunderstorms pushed Thursday's practice to the indoor track facility. Because of the field's surface, full contact is not allowed.
"What you lose is that little bit of that physical, smash mouth, live contact out there on the field," Swinney said. "We give that up, but we're able to stay on the course, from a teaching standpoint.
"There's nothing that we weren't able to install. We just weren't able to go live for a couple of our practice segments."
Thanks to the campaign to improve the school's athletic facilities, which began under Phillips' watch, full contact practices won't be hampered when they're moved to the indoor football practice field that's currently under construction.
"They ought to name it, I don't know who makes those decisions, they ought to name it the Terry Don Phillips Indoor Facility," Swinney said. "That's a great legacy that he's going to leave here, getting Clemson back in business, from a facilities standpoint, because we were so far behind in that area when he came here."
GIFF'S KNEE: The knee injury to redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Gifford Timothy isn't as serious as Swinney thought on Wednesday.
"It wasn't the PCL or the ACL. I'm not doctor, but that sounds good to me. He had a little bit of a meniscus," Swinney said.
Doctors will scope Timothy's left knee on Friday morning.
"They'll do something called a lateral release, from the other side. It looks good. For a hurt knee, it's a good prognosis," Swinney said.
OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE: Jerome Maybank, who was signed as a defensive tackle in 2010, was moved over to the offensive line.
"I think that's a good move for him and a good move for us, long-term," Swinney said. "Obviously, he's behind, but in evaluating our personnel and everybody we have, you're always trying to get everybody in the right seat on the bus."
Whether he'll play guard or tackle is still up in the air.
"We haven't seen him at all. I do think it's a better fit for where we are right now," Swinney said.
Swinney indebted to Phillips
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