Interview with Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney

While attending the ACC kickoff, GoJackets.com had a chance to speak with Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney about the upcoming season, including his preparation for the Thursday night matchup with its ACC rival, Georgia Tech.

You guys were picked to win your division. What are your thoughts on that?

"Well first of all, I did vote for Tim Tebow. I was talking about this exact question yesterday. I really don't think much about it and I don't mean to be rude to you guys because I know you vote on it and that's what you do. Its fun to speculate but my background has trained me to understand that it just really doesn't matter right now. The only thing that matters is what's between the lines. If it did matter, then there are twelve games that a lot of people would be disappointed with right now because it would already be decided. There are a lot of kids that have a lot to say about predictions. I've been a part of a team that won a conference title and was preseason number three in the country and won three ballgames. I've been part of a team that wasn't even close to being ranked and won a championship. I've been on both ends of that spectrum. The old saying is that they remember in November and that is what matters. It's fun to talk about and it gets football kicked off which is what this is all about. There are a lot of games to be played before I start to worry about what the polls say."

Is an ACC championship your number one goal this year?

"No, my number one goal is to win the opener. Our number two goal would be to win the division and our number three goal would be to win the state championship. Our fourth goal would be to win the conference and our fifth goal would be to win the bowl game. That's really what our goals are as a team and we have individual goals but that's our team goals."

Will you be doing anything differently this year now that you're the head coach?

"I'm going to do a lot. I'm going to sleep a little bit before that first game. That will be one thing that I'll do differently. It's just a whole different deal. You do the best you can in certain situations that come your way in life. You try to do the best you can with what you got with the time cap. You try to make the circumstances work for you and not against you. There were a lot of dynamics involved in that whole process. I just feel more complete now. It was an invaluable experience because the whole week-to-week process like sitting down and dealing with the media helped me to prepare for this fall. Now, having put a staff together and being comfortable with the people that are around me, getting a recruiting class under your belt and getting an offseason training program under your belt, and spring practice. I just feel like we're making progress. How much, I don't know. You never really know until you play. I think we started laying a foundation last year and we've been able to build upon it."

How confident were you that you were going to get the job?

"I wasn't very confident. I wasn't really worried about it. When all 85,000 people in Death Valley started chanting my name, I thought, you know I might have a shot. Obviously you think about wanting to be a head coach. I was just more interested in trying to do a good job and trying to be professional because that's our job and that's what we're supposed to do. That's what our kids deserve and that's what our fans deserve. It was really not about me at all. I knew I would be okay one way or the other. As I told the staff, because they knew there would be some changes, it's best for everybody's career to finish strong. I didn't sit around and think about getting the job. There were a lot of things out of my control that had to do with that."

Can you talk about the quick turnaround after the first game and how you're going to prepare for that?

"We're going to do the very best we can. They asked me if this was one of the few times that I was overlooking an opponent to get ready for Georgia Tech and I said I may be a rookie but I'm not stupid. "We've got to win the opener. That's what all of our focus has got to go into. We're playing a team that has a head coach that coached at Clemson for fourteen years; they have a strength coach that coached at Clemson, a wideout coach that played at Clemson, and a running back coach, Willie Simmons, that played at Clemson. Trust me, they know their way to Clemson and they'll come ready to play. It's a team that beat Maryland. It's a team that almost beat Virginia. It's a team that lost to Kentucky on the last play of the game. They're a very confident, capable team. They have a new coordinator in Tony Franklin. There are a lot of challenges for us. We have to put our emphasis on trying to win the opener. I'm just destined for life to have three days to get ready for Georgia Tech. We got practice at that last year so hopefully we can finish the job this year."


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