By William Qualkinbush.
With rumors swirling about Florida’s level of interest in Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s head coach addressed his future employment situation following Saturday’s 28-0 victory over Georgia State.
When asked, Swinney tapped into ideas that have endeared him to Clemson fans since he was named the interim head coach in 2008—love and family.
“I love Clemson,” he said. “I love my job. I love it here. It would be very, very, very hard for me to leave Clemson.
“My kids have grown up here. My baby was born here. They’ve gone to preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle school, and I’ve got two in high school. This isn’t just a job to me. I’m passionate about Clemson.”
One week ahead of a massive meeting with South Carolina, multiple media reports have linked Swinney to the new opening at Florida to some degree. Swinney neither confirmed nor denied interest in any jobs, choosing instead to honestly assess his future.
“I’m not going to stand here and be one of these coaches that say, ‘I will never leave Clemson,’ the sixth-year head coach said. “That’s not genuine. I have no idea.”
Swinney says his focus will be solely on the Gamecocks during the upcoming week and that the rumor mill is a distraction “only when y’all ask me things like that”. He also outlined his long-term vision for the Clemson football program and explained his perspective on the job as it currently stands.
“I think we can win at the highest level,” Swinney said. “I know we can recruit at the highest level. My goal is to really make this the model program in college football. This is not some stepping-stone job. I don’t see it that way.”
The turnover battle. Coming into Saturday’s game, Swinney made a big deal about winning the turnover margin. Against Georgia State, the Tigers forced three turnovers and only committed two. It was the first time Clemson ended up on the plus side of the turnover margin in its last six games, dating back to the N.C. State game. During that span, the Tigers lost the turnover battle three times and tied the opposition twice.
Clemson is now 35-4 under Dabo Swinney when it wins the turnover margin
Senior impact. Saturday was Senior Day, and by day’s end, it was the 40th overall victory for the 2014 senior class. Only the 1990 senior class had that many victories, and the current crop of Clemson seniors has two games remaining to tack on another win.
Saturday’s win was also the 25th at Memorial Stadium for the 2014 seniors, the most of any class in school history. The crew is now 25-2 at home over the past four seasons.
Beat the streak. In what has become an oft-quoted line after expected wins, Clemson has now won 26 consecutive games against unranked opponents. This is the second-longest streak in the nation, behind only Alabama’s 54.
Powerful punting. Bradley Pinion broke a record he shared with Kevin Laird (1996) when he boomed three balls inside the 20-yard-line today. He now has 25 such punts this season, one more than he had last season when he tied the mark.
Beasley back at it. Saturday marked the 13th consecutive game in which Vic Beasley registered a tackle for loss. He also picked up his 30th career sack, vaulting him into the top ten in ACC history. Beasley has nine sacks for the season and was named a finalist for the Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation’s top lineman, this week.
Lawson in elite company. Sophomore defensive end Shaq Lawson registered his tenth tackle for loss this season on Saturday. He also had ten in 2013, making him the first Tiger since Anthony Simmons (1995 & 1996) to reach double digits in tackles for loss as both a freshman and a sophomore.