By Will Vandervort
MIAMI, Fla. — Sunday morning the 12th-ranked Clemson Tigers held practice in South Carolina where temperatures were in the upper 30s and it was raining. But when they met with media later in the afternoon, they were in beautiful Miami where there was no rain and temperatures were in the mid-80s.
“It was cold this morning at practice,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “It was cold so it is nice to be here.”
The Tigers, who will play No. 7 Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl on Friday, are staying at the world famous Fountainbleau Hotel on Miami Beach where Hollywood celebrities and other famous dignitaries come to vacation in South Beach. But despite the nice weather along with all the other distractions that come along with being in Miami, the Tigers have one goal in mind, beating the Buckeyes.
“We have a good group of young men and they are in society every day so you can’t shield them,” Swinney said. “We have rules in place, curfews and all that. You hope everybody will do what is right and abide by the rules. Our guys know if they don’t there are consequences so we are consistent with that.
“It’s definitely not the normal place to stay at any bowl game to be honest with you. This is probably the most unique hotel we will stay at in our bowl experiences, but it’s a lot of fun and these guys have earned it. Teams stay here every year so it is just one of those things you talk about and keep them focused on the task at hand.”
Clemson has been working on the task at hand the last three days as Swinney kept the Tigers in Clemson two days longer than he did in 2011 when they were beaten by West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl.
“It was the way the calendar was,” Swinney said. “It was a day earlier this year than the last time we played in this game. It was the way Christmas break fell for us and we could not get in this hotel until today.
“We came down here two days early last time and there were a lot of logistical things that we had to deal with, and I thought we had good practice and all that stuff. I just felt like getting them all back to Clemson and staying in that comfort zone and that familiar area is what we needed. We had really good practices.”
Now the Tigers hope to continue those good practices in Miami because after all it is a business trip they are on.
“We all realize that it’s a business trip,” linebacker Spencer Shuey said. “We’re definitely going to have a lot of fun and enjoy the hotel and enjoy the facilities and the different events they put on for us, but I think the maturity level on our team has showed that we know it’s a business trip and we’re definitely going to treat it as such.”