NEW ORLEANS – On Sunday morning, Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney spoke to the media at the Sugar Bowl’s last official conference before the game on Monday evening.
Dabo Swinney reiterated his team’s solid preparation up until this point as well as his impressions with New Orleans and the many fans who made the trip to support their respective teams.
Here is what we heard:
Swinney started out the press conference with a warm thank you to all of the Sugar Bowl people who make this experience possible.
“I’ve never been to the Sugar Bowl as a coach,” Swinney said. “So it’s a new experience for me with the Sugar Bowl people. And, man, it’s an operation. They are on point in every regard. So we had a great experience. It’s been a fast week. I mean, today is Friday for us. So that’s where we are from the mind-set standpoint, kind of getting ourselves ready for a great day tomorrow. I’m very excited about the game day getting here. I know Alabama is as well. It’s a long time to prepare for the game. And I’m sure both teams are at this point just ready to go play. And let’s see what is going to happen.”
From a football standpoint, this week spent in New Orleans has been great for Clemson. They have practiced at Tulane as opposed to the Superdome, which made the Tigers feel as if they were right back in Clemson.
“You know, the Dome is huge, first of all,” Swinney said. “Just like yesterday, you go down there and you spend all of your time kind of looking around. I just wanted a little smaller environment. And, to be honest with you, that’s where we practiced in ’92 as well. We practiced at Tulane. And that’s what I had in my mind, so it was great.”
From a social perspective, Swinney has been impressed with the amount of fans he’s seen in New Orleans from both teams, as well as their respect for each other.
“We all walked down Bourbon Street the other night, I guess the first night we got here,” Swinney said. “And that was quite an experience but a lot of fun. I got to see fans from both sides, and it was great.
“People come from all over to see us play. And I just think that we’re very fortunate, obviously, to be at Clemson and Alabama to have fan bases that are going to show up. This will be an awesome environment. And people pay a lot of money to get tickets. And they’re just passionate about it. And, when you have a job that other people are passionate about, I mean, that’s a blessing. It’s awesome to be a part of that.”
As Clemson prepares to face Alabama in the College Football Playoff for the third year in a row, Swinney reflected on his program’s growth and development. He said that consistency has been the key to the Tigers success.
“I think that is probably the thing I am most proud of, everything that we have done, is our consistency,” Swinney said. “To me, I think to be great at anything, you’ve got to be very consistent for a long period of time. And so that’s been one of our number one goals since I got the job, was to build a consistent program.
“And you know what? We’re not going to win it every year. But we want to compete for our conference. And we want to be one of those teams that has a chance, that is in the conversation year in and year out. Because, if you can kind of live there, you’ve got an opportunity certain years to get it done. If things go your way, you stay healthy, whatever it may be.
“It’s just really about a daily commitment, and it comes down to performance. You have to play the games. We’ve recruited guys. Sometimes guys have an opportunity early. Sometimes guys have to be patient like with Kelly Bryant. Sometimes guys walk on, like a Hunter Renfrow. But, at the end of the day, you just have to believe in yourselves and what you’re doing.”