Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney does not care if his team wins by 58 points, like it did at Miami last October, or by six points, like it did in last Saturday’s victory at Auburn. As long as second-ranked Clemson is winning, that is all that matters.
“I don’t know about other people, but I think that with our schedule, if we win every game by one point, and we are 13-0, I think we will be just fine. At the end of the day that’s what it is all about,” Swinney during Wednesday’s ACC coaches teleconference call with the media.
He has a point. Though the Tigers did beat some teams pretty bad early on in 2015, they struggled somewhat with inferior competition down the stretch—Syracuse, Wake Forest and South Carolina—but still kept their No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff Poll and ultimately made it to the College Football Playoff Championship Game.
So do style points really matter in this day and age of college football? Swinney doesn’t think so, and he says those that do just don’t get it.
What does he think when he hears the phrase “style points.”
“Not a real understanding of how hard it is to win to be honest with you,” Swinney said.
Clemson’s head coach appreciate the wins, especially earning a six-point win at Auburn, a place he was just 1-4 at previously in his playing and coaching career. Swinney believes starting a season with a win in an atmosphere like Jordan-Hare was a great experience for his football team, and it is something they can build off.
“It is always good when you win those types of games, obviously,” he said. “It’s very difficult. When you have a Notre Dame-Texas, when you have an Oklahoma-Houston, when you have a Clemson-Auburn and an Alabama-Southern Cal, when you play those types of games they are tough ones to win. When you win, it is great.
“Some of those teams that lost still learned a lot about their team as well. When you get into those types of situations, you can find out really what you got done in camp and kind of where you are because you are challenged at an extreme level.”
Swinney says it is difficult to measure those things against a team you roll out there and dominate.
“I think the experience (at Auburn) is great. There is no doubt about it,” he said. “We will have to go back on the road in some tough places down the road, to have that under our belt early, where they found a way to win, I think that bodes well for our team.
“I definitely think we learned a lot about our guys and a lot of great things about our team. We also know some areas we needed to improve on and we have to develop in some of those areas the first part of the season here.”
Clemson still has road games at Georgia Tech on Sept. 22—the site of the last regular season game the Tigers have lost—and at Florida State on Oct. 29, where the program has won just once since 1989. Clemson has not won at Georgia Tech since 2003.
For now, though, the Tigers turn their attention to Troy, who they will host in the home opener this Saturday in Death Valley. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m., and will be televised on Fox’s Regional Sports Network.