CHARLOTTE – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney took some time Thursday to speak with the media as part of the ACC Football Kickoff at the Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C.
Dabo on Mitch Hyatt and Clelin Ferrell coming back for another year
“They’re frenemies for the next few weeks, and then come September they’ll be back on the same team again. These two right here are two great competitors, great human beings, and both going to graduate in December, and just represent our program in every area with excellence. And that’s what it’s all about. That’s what you want.
Everybody says, oh, well, these guys are back, these guys are back. Yeah, it’s great. I kid with Mitch because everybody puts — it’s all about the D-line, all the D-line is back. I’m like, well, Mitch, didn’t you come back, Renfrow came back and Falcinelli came back and nobody put them on the magazine. We’ve had a little fun with that. Kind of comes from being an O-line, I guess. But these guys have made each other better for the past three years, and it’s been a joy to watch them.
But the great thing about them coming back, yes, it means we have great players, but more importantly, that’s who’s mentoring your young players. That’s the leadership that’s in your locker room. That’s the guys that are running the skills and drills. That’s the guys that are in the locker room setting the standard for really talented young people. It’s a blessing to have them back, but hopefully y’all have enjoyed spending a little bit of time with them and seeing a little bit more than just what type of good football players they are.
Dabo on Venables’ new contract
I’m happy that we were able to go ahead and get that kind of finalized, but really happy for Brent and his family. He has just done a phenomenal job. I think he’s the best at what he does. He’s so passionate about his job. He’s passionate about the players he coaches, and he’s passionate about Clemson. We have a tremendous relationship, and excited about his son Jake coming on board. Jake is going to be a great player, linebacker for us. But again, just gives him the longevity and a little bit more security. Really wasn’t — the salary didn’t change a whole lot, but it just kind of gave him some long-term kind of supplemental income down the road, and more time, term, and in the coaching business, time is very, very valuable. He’s earned his status per the market, and just really happy for him.
Dabo on Tanner Muse and Justin Foster
Tanner is doing great. He had a little minor injury. We held him out of the spring game, but he’s doing well. He had a good summer, got great experience last year, which I think will be very valuable for him going into this season, and a very committed player. And then Justin Foster is one of those guys that really not many people know about other than maybe people that followed the recruiting scene or people from his local area. But boy, is he really developed, and Cle hit on that.
Dabo has high praise for the ACC
I mean, it’s a challenge every year. You’re talking about a league that’s had 21 bowl teams in the past two seasons, so very deep. We had 10 bowl teams last year, 11 the year before. I think that’s a record of any conference, so that tells you the depth of our league, first of all. It’s incredibly competitive. You’d better show up and get better. You’d better show up and be ready, but particularly in our division. Man, Coach Clawson up at Wake Forest, the job he’s done; Steve at BC, man, I think they’re going to be a really good team. Dave Doeren has done a phenomenal job up at NC State. That’s a few play game every single year. Obviously with Florida State, with Willie coming in there, I think he’s a great fit for Florida State, and he’s a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s been. No real reason to think that he’s not going to get them going. This is a job where he’s got really all the resources to be successful, and I don’t have any doubt he will. They’ve always got players, always got talent.
Syracuse beat us last year. They’ve got a quarterback coming back that is — he has got moxie and toughness and just — the kid is a player. He is a very good player. I was hoping he might leave early. But heck, he’s back. I don’t know if I missed anybody.
But our division is tough. It’s going to be a battle to the end.
I forgot Louisville. Pretty tough. We’ve played them four years in a row, and three of those years were the last play of the game. It’s a tough division.
Dabo’s sermon about his faith
About my faith? Man, that’s the easiest question I’ve had all day. Well, I mean, to me, that’s just the priorities of my life. That’s just my — I think that I made a decision when I was 16 — I grew up in a family that I was taught there was a God and all that, but I didn’t really have a relationship with Christ until I was 16. And that was a game changer for me. That’s really become the foundation of my life.
And me personally, I don’t really — it’s hard to survive and thrive in this world if you don’t have a spiritual foundation and have something that you can — that will give you peace, because life is hard, and we’re all going to experience death and failure and setbacks and disappointments and cancer and — it’s just a really difficult world.
For me, God is always — and my relationship with Christ, he’s given me hope and peace, and I love Jeremiah 29:11, for I know the plans I have for you. That’s kind of been a life verse for me. It says to give you hope in the future. There are plans for good, not disaster. And so, I’ve always taken that, and I’ve kind of applied that to my life along my journey. Everybody sees me now and I’m the head coach at Clemson and this and that, but my life hasn’t always been this way. I’ve always used that as — to me, if there’s really hope in the future, then there’s power in the present to deal with whatever mess you’re dealing with in your life, to step through, to hang in there, to persevere, to continue to believe in something, and that’s what my relationship with Christ did for me. It gave me a hope and a belief — the ability to have a hope and a belief beyond my circumstances.
It’s probably the greatest accomplishment that I have had to this point is to see my three sons come to know Christ and to know him as their Lord and savior. But those are personal decisions that people have to make, but it’s just how I choose to live my life. Trust me, people that know me know I ain’t perfect, but I do try to live my life in a way that hopefully can be pleasing to my maker because I know I’m going to meet him one day, and he’s not going to pat me on the back and talk about how many wins I had or how many Coach of the Year trophies we got or how much money I made. I really think he’s going to hold me accountable to how I took advantage of the opportunity and the blessings that he gave me, the impact that I had on young people, the type of men that we develop through a game.