Swinney more than a coach to Spiller

CLEMSON - When Tommy Bowden resigned as Clemson's head coach on October 13, 2008, there was really only one man running back C.J. Spiller wanted to see replace him.

Spiller said as much a few weeks later when he told the media that if Dabo Swinney was named head coach he would return to Clemson for his senior year. A few weeks after that, Spiller was true to his word and is now set to enter his fourth and final season as a Clemson Tiger when fall camp opens later this summer.

When asked if Swinney's naming as head coach played into his decision at all to stay at Clemson, Spiller could not deny that it did. To him Dabo Swinney is more than just a football coach, he considers him a role model and much more.

"I think of him as friend, a father, a brother," Spiller said. "He is always straight forward and is going to give you the best opinion he can. He is the guy that recruited me and gave me a shot.

"He did not force anything on me. Whenever he recruits you, he just asks you to come visit and he lets the facilities, the program and Clemson speak for itself. If you feel that you can fit into this program, he just says, 'hey we would love to have you.' If not, then he isn't going to lose any sleep over it. That's the kind of coach that you want to be with."

Spiller says it didn't take long for Swinney to win over the rest of the team when he started calling all the shots as the interim head coach. He said players quickly bought into what he was trying to do and they loved his enthusiasm not just for the game, but for each one of them.

"It means a lot," Spiller said. "You can tell the difference when he took over and how the team played. He brings so much energy." - C.J. Spiller on Dabo Swinney. (Roy Philpott/CUTigers.com)

"It means a lot," Spiller said. "You can tell the difference when he took over and how the team played. He brings so much energy.

"Coach Bowden was a great coach, but they are two different coaches with two different styles. Coach Bowden just let his assistants do their jobs, while Coach Swinney is very involved in what we are doing. He is going to be fired up on the sideline and he is going to make sure his guys are ready to play.

"He knows how to get to us guys. He is going to let you know and get on you when you do something wrong. He doesn't care if you're the star or not. He treats everyone equally and everyone is going to be on the same playing field. That's the thing I like."

That's why the players felt Swinney was definitely the right hire. They felt he was the reason for the team's strong finish by the way he brought everyone together. Spiller says bringing Swinney back helps with the continuity and it helps build off the momentum the team gathered at the end of last year.

"He was the right candidate for the job. He is going to do things the right way," Spiller said. "I think it also benefited us players. By bringing in someone from the outside, they would have changed our whole scheme around. I think there would have been some division amongst the players and coaches because we would all be trying to adapt to new things."

And there probably would not have been a C.J. Spiller either.

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