COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dabo Swinney had enough.
After watching wide receiver Hunter Renfrow get hit by a Coca-Cola bottle following his second-quarter touchdown reception, Swinney sought after the officials in the game and demanded they put a stop to the nonsense coming out of the South Carolina student section.
Ever since the third-ranked Tigers took the field for pregame warmups prior to Saturday’s 34-10 victory over the No. 24 Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., his team had to dodge water bottles, Coke bottles and other objects being thrown on the field.
Swinney lit into the officials and because of it he was flagged with a 15-yard penalty.
“It was disappointing,” Swinney said. “I know that is not a representation of the people of South Carolina. I have a lot of friends and people that I know that are great people that are South Carolina fans. It was just disappointing to see that and it’s dangerous.”
Swinney said he only got upset because he was afraid, with so much stuff being thrown on to the field, one of his players was going to get hurt.
“I kept thinking that the players were going to get their eye knocked out, like when that player got hit in the eye when that referee threw that flag,” Swinney said. “It was similar to what happened in the NFL. It ended up devastating that player’s career.
“Here we have things being thrown out onto the field, and the refs have to do something about that. They threw a flag on me because I came out of the box, but you know it was about the fifth time that it happened so I felt like I had to address it. I know there are a lot of emotions, but things like that should not be part of the game.”
Before they came on to the field for pregame warmups, quarterback Kelly Bryant said Swinney told the team to wear their helmets and not to take it off during the game.
Though Swinney was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that cost the Tigers 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff following Renfrow’s first touchdown, his players did not seem to mind.
“He is trying to respect his players,” defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said. “He is trying to get some control of the game, and unfortunately the refs did not agree with it. But that is the reason why I respect Coach Swinney. He is all for his players. He is trying to get control of the situation. Basically, he is saying that is unacceptable, I guess. He was really taking care of us.
“He took one for the team there, and we had his back in return.”
Renfrow said the Carolina students were throwing stuff at them all night, while the South Carolina players were taking cheap shots at them when they ran out of bounds and just a lot of little things.
“We appreciate him sticking up for us,” Renfrow said. “That is why Coach Swinney is so great.”