Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has always done things his own way. He has always coached his teams his own way.
When he was interviewed for the head coaching job at Clemson in 2008, he was asked how he could make Clemson more like Georgia, Alabama, Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Michigan and Ohio State. Swinney did not hesitate to answer the question. He told the person he did not want to make Clemson like those other schools. His goal was to make those other schools want to be like Clemson.
Now, heading into his 10th season, Swinney has done exactly that. Under Swinney’s guidance, Clemson has become one of the premier programs in college football, winning 82 games, four ACC Championships and one National Championship in the last seven years.
With the exception of Alabama, those other schools do want to be like Clemson right now.
And though he received some criticism at first, Swinney built the Clemson program his way. He did it by doing things the right way. He did it by being different than those other schools, and he continues to be that way today.
For the first time his coaching career, Swinney gave his team the weekend off in the middle of fall camp. So, why other programs around the country were holding scrimmages on Saturday and will practice today, Clemson’s players are enjoying one final weekend on the lake or going to a movie or doing whatever they want to do before the 2018 season begins.
“For the first time in the history of my 29 years of college football, I will be twiddling my thumbs on Saturday and Sunday,” Swinney said following this past Thursday’s second full scrimmage of fall camp. “I think it is great. They (the NCAA) have changed the practices from 29 to 25 and the way we did our schedule, I could have waited and brought them in later and all of that, but the way we did our schedule and in my meeting with our guys is ‘we have been going 17 straight days so let’s go and let’s grind and then we are going to take Saturday and Sunday off.’”
In this day-and-age of player safety truly coming first, Swinney has taken it to another level by giving his players back-to-back days off from practice and meetings right in the heart of fall camp.
“They are kind of punched-drunk right now a little bit,” Swinney said. “We are starting our third week. (Wednesday) was the culmination of two weeks of camp. I mean every day, meetings, practice, meetings, I mean every day. So, this is literally the start of the third week today because we started two weeks ago on Wednesday. There is always a lot going on.”
Even this past Friday was a light day for the Tigers. They just reviewed the scrimmage and went over some things in their segment meetings before having what Swinney called a “mental practice” with no pads.
“I think when we get back in here on Monday morning, these guys are going to be bouncing and will be lite on their feet a little bit,” Swinney said. “This is a good opportunity for them to recover mentally and physically and get back after it with a strong finish Monday and Tuesday.”
Clemson wraps up fall camp officially on Tuesday before starting classes on Wednesday. Like always, they will get the first day of classes off from practice.
“We will have a practice on Thursday and then the Beanie Bowl next Friday and then we get into game week,” Swinney said.
The Tigers open the 2018 season on Sept. 1 against Furman at Death Valley. Kickoff is set for 12:20 p.m.