No one in college football has done a better of job of turning a program around as much as Dabo Swinney has at Clemson.
Once ridiculed for its inability to be consistent, Swinney has led the Clemson football program to a level of consistency it has never seen before. In the last five years, the Clemson program is one of just two in the country to win at least 10 games every year.
“I think when you’ve had a lot of success, you see programs go up and down. And that’s what I’m most proud of with our team, we have been very consistent,” Swinney said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday as the second-ranked Tigers prep for their visit to Auburn on Saturday. “We have been as consistent as anybody in the country. That is the culture. As I’ve said many times, we don’t want to have a great team, we want to have a great program.
“So when you’ve had success that is the thing you have to always guard against is complacency. That’s what coaching is all about. That is the daily climate that you create.”
In the last four years, the Tigers have posted a 46-8 record. Not only have the Tigers won two ACC Championships since 2011, but they have beaten elite programs such as Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, LSU and Oklahoma, and played for a national championship.
“There is no complacency around here. It is all about what’s next. We don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on our failure. We are just trying to get better,” Swinney said. “If you’re any type of football team and you’re going to maintain a level of consistency, you have to always keep getting better. That is all we are trying to do.
“I don’t measure the season by wins and losses. I measure the season on preparation, commitment, character, and discipline. Those are the things that I measure our seasons with. There are a lot of things that can determine a win or a loss on the scoreboard. I am more concerned on how we are doing things. If we are committed on doing things the right way then we can have consistency.”
And though Swinney is proud his program has accomplished all of those things under his watch, it does not mean he is satisfied. In fact, he wants more.
“There is nothing that has changed. We still have a lot to prove. I am as hungry as I’ve ever been, probably more so,” the Clemson head coach said. “The last time I checked, every time we were lined up to play in 2009, we were expected to win, and when we didn’t we didn’t have anyone patting our backs.”
These days Swinney’s and his players’ backs are being patted a lot. Coming off a season in which they came within a few plays of winning a national championship, the Tigers are being told how good they are and how much better they can be by just about everyone.
The fans are expecting another magical season, while the media has picked the second-ranked Tigers as one of the favorites to return to the College Football Playoff and win the whole thing.
However, Swinney says none of that is new at Clemson. It’s more the norm than people realize.
“When you get the job at Clemson, the expectations are always there. Nothing has changed here,” he said. “We are trying to go for our sixth 10-plus wins in a season. That’s the expectation of what we should be as a program.
“So my expectation is we still have a long ways to go. We have made good progress but until we go win two or three national championships, we are just Little Ol’ Clemson.”
–Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports