Showing support

CLEMSON - Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney doesn't have to think back too long ago when a contingent of Penn State supporters were ready to run off Joe Paterno.

"All of a sudden, he got smart again," Swinney said sarcastically at Tuesday's press conference.

Though some supporters are ready for Bobby Bowden's tenure to end at Florida State, Swinney believes Bobby Bowden could turn the program back to the winning ways Seminole fans have become accustom to.

It's not that he claims to know all details of the situation, Swinney just has the utmost respect for Bowden.

"Florida State wouldn't be on the map if it wasn't for Bobby Bowden," Swinney said. "He's as class a man as you would ever meet. He's been very gracious with his time. Good Lord, he started coaching in the 50's. That's just mind boggling."

"If people force Bobby Bowden out, that's a shame."

Several years ago, he and former Clemson Coach Tommy Bowden were in Tallahassee on a recruiting trip. Out of the blue, the younger Bowden said, ‘Let's go see Daddy.'

What started off as an awkward trip for Swinney as Tommy leading the way, the two waltzed down the Florida State football facility halls in their Clemson gear, just like they belonged there.

"We bust right in there, just like my son Will would do down here," Swinney said.

After surprising Tommy's daddy, Swinney found himself looking around Bowden's office in state of awe, checking out all trophies that filled the room that could double as a museum exhibit.

Soon enough, out of the blue, the younger Bowden decided to head elsewhere, leaving Swinney with one of college football's elder statesmen.

The two connected through conversation that ranged from coaching, their common birth city of Birmingham, and the mayor of Swinney's home town, who also happens to be good friends with Bowden. Those 20 minutes that Dabo shared with Bobby is a moment that Swinney won't soon forget.

"That was a big thrill for me," Swinney said. "After that, I've gotten to know him more."

Knowing the elder Bowden, Swinney didn't ever worry about their future relationship becoming an awkward one at this time last year.

"I didn't think it would be (awkward) for him," Swinney said. "Probably for me, because it was a bad situation for everybody--it was tough times. You just try to do the best you can."

The two sat together for some time this summer at the wedding of the younger Bowden's daughter--just like two old friends.

Whether it's the friend in Swinney or the fellow college football coach, he believes Bowden has earned the benefit of the doubt. Top Stories