Wednesday’s Thoughts: Swinney reflects on how special Clemson is and what has been accomplished in the last 8 seasons
With Clemson out in front of South Carolina last Saturday during a T.V. timeout in the fourth quarter, Dabo Swinney stood on the sideline with tight end Milan Richard and just watched. They just watched as the 81,000 fans had their lights popping from the phones and the crowd was going crazy.
Richard said to Swinney, ‘Man! I am going to miss this place. This is special.”
It was special.
It was another special night at Death Valley as the second-ranked Tigers rolled to a 21-point victory over the Gamecocks, the program’s fifth straight over its rival. It was also the seniors’ 27th win in 28 games at Memorial Stadium.
Since 2011, Clemson is 53-3 at home and has won 34 of its last 35 games there. No place in college football has become as intimidating to play in than Clemson’s Death Valley.
“Our fans are amazing,” Swinney said.
Clemson’s fiery head coach says 98 percent of all Clemson fans are amazing and a small two percent will complain and be “just completely out of touch with reality” when it comes to thinking the Tigers should win every game by 60 points.
And that’s okay with Swinney, too.
“Fans can have whatever mindset they want to have,” he said. “But I don’t want anything to creep into the culture of our program because our players get stuff pushed at them on social media … I don’t want our players to ever walk off the field, ever, with a win and (feel) the so-called ‘feels like a loss.’
“How sad is that? The objective is to win the game.”
Not many teams have won as much as Clemson has the last eight seasons. The Tigers are 94-15 since 2011. Wrap your head around that one for a little while.
They just wrapped up their second perfect regular season in the last four seasons. They’ve won 10 or more games every year, tied for the third longest streak in the history of college football.
With a win over Pittsburgh in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday night, Clemson can earn its fifth league title and its fourth overall. No ACC team has won four outright ACC Championships in a row in the 66-year history of the conference.
The Tigers have also won some other amazing games during this stretch. Orange Bowl wins over Ohio State and Oklahoma. A rout of Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and of course playing for two national championships, while beating mighty Alabama in one of them to win the 2016 National Championship.
Along the way, Swinney and his players have had a lot of fun, and he wants to keep it that way.
“Like I have said, ‘The fun is in the winning’ and if it is not fun to win, well man, that is a sad state of affairs,” he said. “There are places like that. There are people like that … I am miserable when we lose. I am not going to be miserable when we win.
“I hate to lose. I hate to lose! I work too hard, but I do understand that sometimes losing is a part of your success and it is a part of your growth. But, when you find a way to get it done, I don’t care if you win (by a point) … what was the score of the (Texas) A&M game the other night? I guarantee you those A&M players, they were jacked up to win and that is awesome! Yeah, I’m sure they have a lot of things they have to do better and lots of things to fix, but you won the game.”
And that is the objective … to win the game. No matter what the score is, and Clemson has won a lot of them the last eight seasons. That’s why Swinney wants everyone, especially his players, to enjoy these moments and enjoy this feeling because at most places they don’t win like Clemson wins and like he says, “The fun is in the winning.”