Lone star trip inspires staff

CLEMSON - After spending a few days in Austin with the University of Texas Longhorns football team, Dabo Swinney learned there wasn't much difference between little ol' Clemson and national title contender Texas after all.

"I'll tell you if did not get anything else out of that trip, I got one thing, there is no better place than Clemson University," he said Thursday in a media gathering to preview spring practice. "This is a special place. We have everything we need to be successful at Clemson.

"The only difference to me in Texas and Clemson is right there (pointing to an orange wood sign that read "Believe"). It is that mentality we are trying to get to and believing that you can do something great and that your hard work is paying off and that you keep getting up believing."

Swinney says his job over the next 34 days after the Tigers start spring practice on Monday is to make sure his players to just that, and then he has to make sure the fans and everyone else associated with the program also begins to believe.

"There are a lot of people that have doubt and this and that. We have to believe," he said. "It starts on the inside and it works its way out. That starts with me and the coaches, the managers, the trainers, the equipment people, the secretaries and the players.

"If we take care of that than hopefully everyone else will believe like we need them to."

"But I know this; they have won more games than anybody the last 10 years. They have won more than anybody." - Dabo Swinney on visiting with Mack Brown.
For those who don't hear Swinney's message, he again pointed to Texas' lack of championships before Mack Brown arrived in Austin.

Since he has been there - going on 12 years now - the Longhorns have won another national championship, their first since 1970 and have won or played for the Big 12 Title several other times.

"This is Texas. There are 10 million people in the state of Texas," Swinney said. "They had not won a national championship since 1970, but they won it in '05. That's 35 years they wandered around in the desert out there in Texas. 35 years.

"It's what? 18 years since we won this conference and 28 years since we won the national championship here? Well, it is time to get back to believing that you can do great things again. It is not easy to do and it wasn't for Coach Brown.

"But I know this; they have won more games than anybody the last 10 years. They have won more than anybody."

But Swinney and his staff just didn't learn they had to change the mentality of their club when he went to Austin. They also picked up on a few new wrinkles, especially offensively, that they will work on in practice this spring.

"The thing I like about them is that they are simpler than we are," said Swinney, as the Clemson staff visited Texas Sunday-Tuesday of this week.

"They're not offensive plays, but they are offensive players and I like that. I think we got a lot out of it.

"We really wanted to study some protection things that they were doing and then certain personnel that we play out of that they use and it kind of gave us some different philosophies. It was a great, great trip for us from that regard."

Swinney said the trip, which was the first time since he had been at Clemson that the entire staff went, also confirmed that there are a few things that they thought they were doing right, but they actually weren't.

"The biggest thing you learn is that you are doing some things better, but you also learn a new way to teach something," he said. "If you ever stop learning in this profession you are done."

And that is when you stop believing.

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