Sense of Urgency

CLEMSON - Athletic director Terry Don Phillips was very clear Tuesday in the ongoing search for the Clemson's permanent head football coach - there is a sense of urgency.


TALKING ABOUT THE ESPN COMMENTS FROM THIS PAST WEEKEND: The bottom line is this. The game is over. Dabo is close to the end of the team area. I never go in the team area. I don't talk to coaches. I don't look at coaches. That's none of my business. The game is over. I expressed my frustration about that call. The holding call. And again ... I have to control that. I can't do that. That was wrong.

YOU SAID LAST WEEK THE ORANGE BOWL WAS A STILL REAL POSSIBILITY, DABO SAID AFTER THE GAME, 'ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY ... WHICH IS IT? WHAT'S THE STATE OF THE PROGRAM RIGHT NOW? I think we have good players here. I think Dabo is headed down the right path we need to go down. An attitude adjustment. How the kids feel about themselves. How they feel about the team and meshing everybody together. So, I think we all believed we'd be better than we were this year. I know we did have some injuries. But what I really appreciate what Dabo is doing right now is building the team concept. How each person impacts the other person. Issues of effort and attitude and those kinds of things that is absolutely critical to be an outstanding program year in and year out. The ones that consistently do it have those attributes.

IS THERE A NUMBER OF WINS IN MIND FOR DABO TO STAY AS A HEAD COACH? No. I think Dabo has some very special intangibles ... leadership intangibles. Things he did last week, he did it intuitively and instinctively. And he did it because that's where he's coming from. And that comes from his days at Alabama and his own personal life. He's got some intangibles you can't teach. The way you get some of those things, No. 1, what you have inside of you. And No. 2 what kind of training you have. He's got a lot of character traits that are outstanding because he grew up in an outstanding program. He's one of those kids who has had to work his way up and nobody has ever given him anything. I just think we need to let this thing play out.

AS YOU EXAMINE COACHING CANDIDATES FOR CLEMSON, WILL DABO BE THE STANDARD YOU JUDGE THOSE CANDIDATES OR IS THAT UNFAIR TO SAY? I think that's a little unfair. One of the things when you hire personnel, you want to hire someone who gives you the best opportunity to win and to have the overall kind of program you want. A lot of that becomes intuitive. Les Miles ... and Mike Gundy ... was all intuitive. Les was tight ends coach of the [Dallas] Cowboys when we offered him the head job. I liked how he coached on the field. Liked his approach with the kids but there was nothing you could hang your hat on and say this guy is going to be really successful. Part of that deal of hiring Les was bringing Mike Gundy back and Mike had just been fired off the Maryland staff. But it was intuitive ... in the right situation Mike Gundy could be an outstanding assistant coach or head coach if it all worked out. Again, you have to have a good background. You have to have a good sense of football. You have to be able to teach it. You have to reach beyond the football aspect and get into the personal realm of how those kids will respond to an individual. Sometimes that's the part you can't know 100 percent sure that trait is there. But getting those kids to respond to the system and believing in the system and believing in the team concept and understanding what they do impacts their teammates and the team becomes more important that the individual- the successful coaches can teach that. But again, personnel, that's why you see people you've never heard of become very successful. That's why you see personnel you have heard of in one arena, who have had good success, and then in another arena it doesn't click.

HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CHANGES DABO ALREADY MADE? I think he had his finger on the pulse. He understood what our people were missing and what our team was missing. That relationship with the students and the fans. Again, that was one of those things intuitively, instinctively he knew. I think he's got his finger on the pulse real well.

SO IF HE WENT 1-5 IN HIS LAST SIX GAMES YOU THINK HE'D STILL HAVE A LEGITIMATE SHOT? I think you wait, and you look at it as a whole and not as a part. In fairness to him, that's they way you have to look at it. And again, Dabo understands there are no guarantees. He's going to have an opportunity to interview for this job after it's all said and done, yet at the same time we are going to be visiting with other people.

WILL YOU HIRE A COACHING SEARCH FIRM? We'll use an intermediary to be begin to gain a broad prospective of the field that's out there. Gain information about contractual issues and obligations and expectations and those sorts of things.

HAS THAT ALREADY STARTED? Yes it has. I won't mention who it is. But yes it has started.

THIS COULD BE VIEWED AS UNFAIR BECAUSE HE'S IN A DIFFICULT SITUATION: That's a good observation because Dabo goes into this situation without any baggage. And he's well thought of, people respect him and they like him and he's a good coach. But he has no baggage because he hasn't had wins and losses. At the end of the year Dabo Swinney won't change as a coach. The only thing that will change is what happens in these games with wins and losses. Perception can change by wins and losses in the public, but at the end of the day, I hope we do a good job regardless of baggage because there are good coaches out there with no the most stellar records that would be a good fit as well. But that is what happens between now and then. But Dabo will not change in the coming weeks ... he'll still be a good young bright coach. The only thing that will change is wins and losses. Someday Dabo will be a good football coach ... maybe here, maybe somewhere else, I don't know. Certainly this is a good opportunity here. We certainly have to survey the field.

YOU SAID A NATIONAL SEARCH, IS THAT TRULY WHAT IT IS? That's accurate. I would say this ... the closer to home you are with someone who has ties to this region, they understand and have a good feel of the culture, then they would, to me, would have an edge because Clemson is a lot different than Los Angeles or Stillwater, Okla.

HAVE YOU TAKEN ANY NAMES OFF YOUR INITIAL LIST AND HAVE YOU ADDED NAMES TO YOUR LIST? Well we were at the point now where we have an initial list where we are trying to gain information on individuals. We haven't taken anybody necessarily off the list. We haven't put anybody on the list that wasn't on there. And most of the list we are working with, other universities will have them as well. So, that's where we are right now. But, we are working with a sense of urgency on this.

COULD DABO COACH PAST THE REGULAR SEASON INTO A BOWL GAME? If we go to a bowl game, he'd definitely have that opportunity. He's come in and taken some lemons and turning them into lemonade. He's doing some outstanding things with the team, the student body and the fans. So, if that were to happen then absolutely.


YOU'VE LOST FOUR VERBAL COMMITMENTS ALREADY SINCE THE COACHING CHANGE, IS IT IMPERATIVE YOU GET A NEW COACH IN PLACE WITHIN THE FIRST 10 DAYS OF DECEMBER: I think that's fair. Yes. Again we are going to work with a sense of urgency that this thing will be decided as quick after the regular season as we possibly could do it.

ANY CHANCE THIS COULD BE DECIDED BEFORE THE END OF THE REGULAR SEASON? Would depend on who's involved and who's not involved. Top Stories