Swinney Unites Clemson Nation

CLEMSON - I don't care what anyone says. Dabo Swinney did a remarkable job getting his team ready to play Saturday.

Sure they lost, and that's the immediate bottom line.

Let me repeat that. The loss was the bottom line. Losing is not good. It's not enjoyable. It's not what is expected of any head coach at Clemson, whether he's been on the job four days or 10 years.

But if you allow yourself to look at the big picture for a moment or two, it's easy to see that what Clemson's interim coach did was nothing short of remarkable.

Think back to one week ago.

Clemson fans went to bed on Sunday night and woke up Monday morning still grousing about a weak, embarrassing effort at Wake Forest. You were unhappy. You were embarrassed. Many of you wanted a new coach.

The mood was, without overstating things, doom and gloom.

Now, back in the present, as you read this so much has changed.

Yes, the Tigers lost. But what did you gain?

In many cases, you gained hope. You gained unity. You gained respect and admiration for the way Swinney negotiated his way through the eye of the hurricane.

How could you not love the way Swinney ran down the hill for the first time? Or the high-fives he slapped with the fans behind the bench after a touchdown?
It's not so much hope for this season being saved. But it's hope for the future. Whether Dabo Swinney is the head coach next year or not, the one thing he's done is remind you why you love Clemson football in the first place.

The fun. The passion. The excitement. It was all back on Saturday.

How could you not love the way Swinney ran down the hill for the first time? Or the high-fives he slapped with the fans behind the bench after a touchdown?

How could you not love the way he disciplined a player, one who walked off the field only to find himself sent back out and made to sprint to the sideline?

How could you not love the way he could get in a player's face one minute, and hug his neck with love and pure emotion the next?

No, Clemson didn't win. And that's the bottom line. It's the main reason coaches are hired and fired. And though it's only six games, it will be one key element which decides if Swinney comes back next season.

But loss aside, Swinney did in four days what once appeared to be the impossible.

He took a fractured team and brought it back together. He took a fractured fan base and brought it back together.

He made Saturday in Death Valley fun again, when it looked for all the world like the day might have all the exhilaration of a funeral.

Is Swinney the right man for the job? It's too early to tell.

But if Terry Don Phillips decides to go another direction, Swinney's place in Clemson history will always be secure.

Not because of wins and losses.

But because of how he rallied the troops, both on and off the field. He made football at Clemson fun again in just four days.

Which makes you wonder, how will he do with two weeks to prepare for Boston College?

CUTigers.com Top Stories