Dabo Swinney's Press Conference

CLEMSON - Interim head coach Dabo Swinney previews Saturday's game against South Carolina.

Opening Comments...
Swinney: Alright. Thank y'all for being here today. It's been fun working with you guys the last couple of Tuesdays. Anyway. Great win for us Saturday. Really proud of the team to go on the road and win two of the last three games. Actually three of the last four. Virginia is a team that is tough to beat at home. It turned into a slugfest and we won the battle. Defensively we played a helluva game. Overall it was a great win. This has been a great week for us thus far. I've enjoyed listening to the players and what this game means to them. That's been fun for me. Today will be an important practice for us. We got a lot accomplished. South Carolina they are a very good team on both sides of the ball. Seems like every week we play a team that is nationally ranked defense. They have a top five passing defense. Pretty good matchup of strengths I would say. Offensively, y'all know coach Spurrier. He's going to have them ready to play. I've watched them for years. We have to be smart defensively because of coverage packages and stuff like that. Hopefully we will be very multiple defensively. They are very capable of running the ball but have had some offensive line issues giving up some sacks that has hurt their rushing numbers. No. 11 is a playmaker for them. Will be a challenge for us defensively. Will be a completely different game than the game we just played. They are multiple. Even front, odd front. Different blitz packages. They are a pressure, attack team. They don't sit there and read and play coverage. These guys are all over the place. They pursue and attack. I'm excited to see these seniors play their last home game in Death Valley. When I took this thing we talked about the second half of the season and I'm proud of that- we are 3-1 in the conference with two of those three on the road. Another 12 o'clock game so we know the routine well. We all have a lot of things to be thankful for this week ... take a moment to count your blessings with your friends and your loved ones and your health. I'm thankful for the players and the seniors who have hung in there and battled in there. And I'm thankful to have the opportunity to do what I've done the last seven weeks. Looking forward to it very much. Also remember Dr. Edwards and what he's meant to this university. He's trying to hang on and help us beat Carolina this week.

Do you have to win this game to keep your job?
Swinney: No idea. I have no idea. I think I have to win every game to do what's best for this program. It's not about me keeping a job. It's about getting this team ready to play. That's really what it's about.

Do you have a good feel for this rivalry?
Swinney: Oh yeah. Big time. I didn't really understand it when I got here. My wife and I built a house when we came here and we were two weeks away from moving in it. I put a for sale by owner sign in front of our old house on Friday and sold it Sunday. Made a little money. People who bought the house were moving from Columbia, S.C. To understand what I'm saying had I understood the rivalry I would have charged them a little bit more. The rivalry - there are a lot of similarities between Auburn/Alabama. Was part of 13 of those. A lot of similarities as far as what it means to the state. There are no pro teams here. Most people grow up Carolina or Clemson and they will fight you for it. When I first moved here and nobody knew me going to schools half the people liked me and half didn't. Fortunately we've won four and only lost one.

Was the Florida a game- was that an aberration?
Swinney: First off Florida is very very good. Florida probably wins that game 9.5 times out of 10. It probably should have been a much better game. Things snow balled on them. That happens. You get down two or three scores on a really good football team it can just get worse. Then style of play changes because you are trying to do things you didn't prepare for all week.

Do you think Terry Don Phillips takes you seriously as a candidate?
Swinney: I think he takes me seriously by giving him the opportunity to be the head coach. He didn't put me in the position to say hey go do a good job and we'll go get the next guy. He said go do a good job and we'll see. I'm at peace with it. This is just There's a beginning and an end and this is one of those next scenes in the movie. I have all the confidence in Terry Don to make the best decision for this program.

Is it tough knowing this may be the last scene?
Swinney: No. It's not. I've had a ball. I've had a blast. This has been the opportunity of a life time. I kind of feel like a walk-on coach. I got called over from a staff meeting, hey let's see how you do with the varsity.

Is Terry Don Phillips in town today?
Swinney: He is not in town to my knowledge. I did talk to him this morning but I was talking to him trying to get something worked out for practice. I didn't ask him where he was.

Would you consider staying if you weren't the head coach?
Swinney: Again, you never say never. You just deal with that stuff as it comes to you. I have no idea.

What does it mean to you the players are saying they aren't only playing for a bowl game, but also for your job?
Swinney: That's great. It means the kids know you care about them. That's what it means. It means a lot to know they care about me.

Do you think you have improved significantly on offense under your direction?
Swinney: Oh yeah. We've gotten better. We've improved in a lot of areas. No doubt about it. For us to run the ball 10 straight plays against Virginia and eight of those were on the same play. That shows we are growing up a little bit up front. Those kids have played a lot of ball this year and have gotten better and better. They are starting to get it.

Is that a combination of play calling and the offensive line?
Swinney: A little bit of everything. All the above.

Do you think college coaches make too much money?
Swinney: Probably. Dang I never thought I'd make the money I make now. I remember Coach Stallings said I'm going to pay you $38,000 and that's more than you are worth. $38,000 I was rich! Shoot I did cartwheels out of his office. It's like anything else. There's a market. A house is worth what somebody is willing to pay for it. Who determines that - that's the world we live it. It's changing but it's big money. It's changed for a reason. There's a lot that goes on with this job. To answer your question, in layman's terms- a lot of people make too much money but it's a free society and that is what makes America great.

What about the contracts and buyouts? Are those reasonable?
Swinney: Well sure. This business is no different than any other benefit.

Did you get a raise when you were named interim head coach?
Swinney: No. I ain't got no raise. I don't know what Terry Don's plan is. He may give me some kind of bonus somewhere down the road. I would have done it for desserts. The opportunity itself has been a raise for me.

Talk about Jared Cook and some of the problems he presents to your defense.
Swinney: He's tall. He's a kid that was a wideout and developed into a tight end. You get it in the zip code and he'll bring it in. They do a good job in moving their guys around. That's why we have to be smart in how we cover him because they'll matchup him with the wrong player on our defense quick. Very good player.

If you can sum up this rivalry ... do the players hate each other like the fans seem to?
Swinney: It wasn't that way at Alabama-Auburn. Fans are that way. They really don't like each other. Both sides want to win very bad. The players have more of a respect. For the most part those kids respect our team and we respect them. A lot of them know each other. From a coaching perspective- that's changed. I have a lot of respect for Coach Spurrier. I've know Spurrier Jr. for a long time and consider him a friend. I've known Ellis Johnson for a long time. I know Coach Beamer. I wish them nothing but the best with the exception of this weekend.


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