Dabo, you've put together one of the top recruiting classes in the country for next year. Talk about how your new contract and how the FFRF controversy have helped your recruiting the last few months.
Swinney: Well, I think from a
contract standpoint, that certainly has been a great
benefit to us, just kind of shows the commitment
and the security that's there as these young people
are making decisions. As far as all that other stuff, you know, I
don't know how that's hurt us or helped us or
whatever. If anything it maybe just brought a little
bit of light to just maybe who I am as a person.
I saw you and Coach Shafer talking
earlier today and just was curious, had he
apologized after what happened in last year's
Swinney: No, he was still MF'g
me over there -- no, it's been a funny story. First of
all, I didn't have a clue. I'm hear at the ballgame
and when the ballgame is over Tim Bourret is
running over to me, we had a little problem during
the game. I'm like, we just won the game, what's
the problem. He told me what happened, so I
addressed the team and I go in our locker room
and Coach Shafer is in the coaches' locker room,
just he and I in there and my son was in there, and
he just -- he was so remorseful and just
apologized, and I said, what did you say, and he
went right back through it verbatim. My son was
over there going -- but I was like, wow, you were
But he just -- he's a passionate guy when
you get to know him, and then we saw him at the
ACC meetings and my wife and I, we were going
for a walk, and we were coming out and here
comes this car, and next thing you know the car
stops and the window rolls down and it's
Ms. Shafer, and she's like, we need to take a
picture with y'all because their daughter was mad
at him and wanted to prove that we really like each
other, so we took a picture and had some fun.
He told me something that was interesting,
he said, you know, I spent 22 years in the press
box. He said, in the press box I threw stuff, I took
my shirt off, I did whatever I wanted to do and I
never had to worry about it. Now I'm the head
coach and I'm on the sideline and it's been a long
time. It was a very passionate moment, but we've
actually had a lot of fun in discussing that, and I
think he did a great job last year, and I think he's
going to continue to do a great job.
With Cole we've seen him out there
before, but this is a new role for him and this is
his offense to run. Can you just talk about
what you're taking away from Cole and what
you see in his vision moving forward now that
Boyd's chapter is over?
Swinney: Well, I'm proud of Cole,
first of all, and how he's prepared every week for
the past three years to be ready to be the starter.
He's never complained. He's been very patient.
And then he had to come out this spring and he
had to win the job, and he won the job this spring.
I think we couldn't have a guy more
prepared to be the starter in his first game than
Cole Stoudt, but just because he has excellent
experience to draw upon, and when he's played,
he's played very well, and because of that he has a
confidence that most first-time starters may not
have, and then the fact that he won the
quarterback competition this spring, which was a
tough competition. So I think he's very confident. I
think he's got the respect of his teammates. He's a
good leader for us, and now he's got to go perform
as well as a starter just like he did as a backup.
So many have been asked this week
about playing against Vic Beasley. What can
you say about your team playing with him
when everybody has talked about how difficult
it is to go up against him? What can you say
about being on that side?
Swinney: Well, I just think he's a
great player that came back. He chose to come
back, you know, and he's not coming back to just
kind of go through the motions. I mean, he's
coming back to be a great player, so he's highly
motivated. He wants to be a top-15 pick, and he
was probably a second round pick last year, so
he's come back to really improve his stock and to
improve his game, so he has a lot to prove.
He wants to be a more complete player.
He's got great people around him, so it's not like
he's got to be Superman or anything like that. You
just want to see him bring it every single week, and
hopefully he can stay healthy, and if he does, I
think that the mission that he's on, I think he's
going to be a force to deal with. The combination
that he has of speed and length and strength is
unique at his position.
Last year your fan base was so
rabid to host Georgia in the opener, I mean, the
whole summer everybody was geeked for it.
Now you have to go down to their place. Just
the dynamic of not having the lift that you had
from your fans and getting it done in a tough
Swinney: Yeah, it's why they call
it home-field advantage, for a reason. You've got
to -- if you're going to be the champion, though,
you've got to win in those environments.
Everybody has to go on the road and has to find a
way to win. We've won in some big road games.
Our guys have good experience with that, and
we've had some tough losses, and sometimes that
factor can be the difference. So the key is to try to
get them out of the game and not let them really
get in the game from a crowd standpoint. Easier
said than done, but what you hope is that you can
get it to the fourth quarter and have a chance to
win it, and that veteran leadership and experience
that you've got will kind of pull you through.
The way your team played in the
Orange Bowl last year, if there was a college
playoff last year, would your team have won
the National Championship?
Swinney: I don't know. I mean,
we can talk about that all day long. If that would
have been the case, I certainly think we could play
with anybody. I said that last year. I felt like we
were one of the teams going into the season last
year, and I feel the same -- I think there's 10, 12,
14 teams a year that really have a shot. I felt like
we were one of those teams last year. I mean, we
finished seventh so it's not like we did bad, and we
lost to 4 and we lost to 1. So we certainly were
capable of playing anybody at any time and
winning. Ohio State was 24-1 when they came
into our game and was a quarter away of playing
for the National Championship, so I don't think
there's any doubt that we were capable of
competing for it. We just didn't win the key games
when we needed to to warrant the opportunity like
Florida State did and like Auburn did.
I just wanted to know what are your
thoughts about facing Syracuse this upcoming
Swinney: I think they're going to
be a very improved team. I thought they came on
last year and had some huge wins, went on to a
bowl game. They were one of the 11 teams in our
league with a winning record in Coach Shafer's
first year, and I definitely think that they will be a
As your new players on offense kind
of get acclimated and get into a comfort level,
you obviously need something you can rely on.
How good do you think the Clemson defense is
going to be, and do you think you need to rely
on that maybe in a couple of early games?
Swinney: Well, you know, we
definitely have got to grow a few guys up early and
find some answers offensively in a couple spots
and see how those guys perform, and hopefully
our defense will allow us to not have to be quite as
perfect on offense, maybe take a little pressure off
those guys. That would be great.
But from a defensive standpoint, I think
that from year to year, the strengths of your team
change because maturity changes at different
positions, and there's no doubt that the majority of
our veteran leadership is on the defensive side, in
particular up front in the trenches. That's where it'll visit our archives at asapsports.com
Clemson - 7 21 14 3
start for us, and hopefully, I mean, it wouldn't hurt
my feelings at all to be known as a great, great
defense and the best defense in all the land. That
would be just fine with me. We can win 10-7, and
I'd be just fine with that.
But I still think when it's all said and done,
we'll be one of the better offenses out there.
We've got good personnel, and I think it's going to
come together just fine.
With the addition of Louisville to the
Atlantic Division, how do you think the division
ranks with the top divisions in the country?
Swinney: Pretty strong. Like you
said, you've got the national champion, the Orange
Bowl champion, and what BCS bowl was Louisville
in? Which one? Anybody know? Russell Athletic
Bowl. The year before they won the Sugar Bowl,
and I think they beat Florida, so they've been a
very consistent program. I think it's as tough a
division as there is out there, three teams that have
been nationally in the mix the last few years.
Q&A with Dabo Swinney
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