Brownell says Swinney is one of his closest friends
SAN DIEGO — When a San Diego reporter referenced the Clemson football program was at its height a couple of years ago, Brad Brownell did not let him finish his question.
“We are still at a pretty high level now,” the men’s basketball coach interrupted. “What did we make? The Final Four! And we have a top 10 recruiting class. We are not going anywhere. We are not quite a basketball school yet.”
Though that may be true, the Tigers are working on it and Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney is definitely along for the ride. But Brownell joked that he knows his place in Tiger Town.
“No! We are not going to be (a basketball school). That will get me in trouble with a lot of people to answer that question that way,” he said laughing. “No, but I do think, and what I am optimistic about is that we can co-exist in a very positive way and the success of the football program over the course of the last five, six and seven years with Coach Swinney has been unbelievable, for not just men’s basketball, but for athletic department and the community.”
Swinney, who attends most home games at Littlejohn Coliseum back in Clemson, is a huge basketball fan. He played high school basketball and, as Brownell said Saturday as the Tigers prepare for their second-round NCAA Tournament game against Auburn in the Midwest Regional, he is pretty good at it too.
“Coach Swinney does love to play noon time basketball,” Brownell said. “He is not there all the time. He is working most of the time, but he does show up a little more frequently in the off-season.
“He is a chucker. He is going to get a lot of shots up. There is no question about that. And there is really not anybody in the gym, unless, I’m there, who can tell him that he shoots too much. Most of the guys that are playing are his GAs, his assistants or other guys in the athletic department who are scared of him.”
Brownell was of course joking about Swinney, who is one of his good friends, but he did admit Swinney brings his own jerseys to the Swann Pavilion Practice Facility to play “Noon Ball.”
“There are jerseys, but he buys the jerseys and if you reach a certain level you are deemed to get a jersey, but you have to earn your jersey according to him,” Brownell said. “It says NTBA—Noon Time Basketball Association—and he is obviously the chairman.”
Swinney is also the president and chairman of the Brad Brownell Fan Club.
“He is a big basketball fan,” Brownell said. “He and I are pretty good friends. Our families are close, so I greatly appreciate our friendship. His wife has reached out to me and Paula. They are terrific.
“He has been a true friend for me through this time and we have a good time together. It is a great thing to have somebody to relax with every once in a while and kick back and also go to him for different professional advice when you have things going on. We do things together that way. It has been great. He has obviously reached out to us. He will be watching.”