All-in remains a way of life

SUNSET, S.C. – Some thought it was only a clever catch phrase when Dabo Swinney was first named interim head coach of the Clemson football team.

But ‘All In' remains the way of life for the Tiger football program as he enters his second full-season as head coach.

"It means being committed to being your very best, just being committed all the time," Swinney said.

It's the credo Swinney preaches to his players with the idea that it's not just limited to the football field on Saturday afternoons in the fall.

"It's over there in the dining hall, when nobody's looking at night, in the locker room, in the practice field when it's hot, at the hotel on Friday night, being all in. If we can get everyone to buy into that formula the wins will work itself out," he said.

After a 9-5 2009 season that ended with a Music City Bowl win over Kentucky, Clemson returns plenty of experienced players along both lines, a proven secondary and a duo of dynamic running backs.

But like any college football program in the country, there are questions at Clemson.

Will Kyle Parker be back?

Is the loss of C.J. Spiller to tough to handle?

Are any wide receivers going to step up?

How about some linebackers?

National prognosticators have taken notice, too.

Like 2009, the 2010 Clemson football team is on the outside looking in on most preseason national top-25 lists. For some, the answers are too daunting to answer to rank the Tigers in the preseason top-25.

"I can understand the hesitancy for writers and media to not have high expectations for us," Swinney said. "I don't buy into all of that."

In fact, he thinks back to last year when there were plenty of tempered expectations for Clemson.

"You had this new head coach," Swinney said. "He hasn't coached much. They have a lot of new coaches. They don't know who their quarterback is going to be. Half of the team wants Willy Korn. The other half wants Kyle Parker and he's a better baseball player, he can't play quarterback.

"C.J. Spiller, they're going to use him all different ways, he isn't going to hold up. No way he can do all this stuff. Jacoby Ford, he can't be the guy. Who's going to replace the two NFL safeties?...Who's the offensive linemen?"

For now, it's nothing but water cooler material to help pass the time until kickoff. As he noted, eight teams that finished in the top-25 in 2009 weren't on the preseason list.

"It's all fun for people to talk about," Swinney said. "All that matters to me is at the end of the year."

That's when a set of more meaningful questions arrive.

"Where are we? Have we gotten better as a team? Is our program still moving in the right direction, based on decisions we've made, personnel-wise, coaching-wise? Are players buying into it?

"That's what's important to me," Swinney said. Top Stories