WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dabo Swinney loves to point out what makes football so special. Monday’s visit to the White House was another one of those opportunities.
President Donald Trump hosted Clemson’s football team Monday night to recognize the Tigers’ for their triumph over Alabama in last week’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
It was Clemson’s second trip to the White House in the last 19 months. President Trump also honored the 2016 National Champion Tigers in July of 2017.
“What a fun day. It is an honor to be a part of this tradition,” Swinney said to the President. “To be honest with you, it is really cool that football can create an opportunity like this.”
Swinney recalled a trip he made to Washington, D.C., back in the fifth grade, but unfortunately his mother could not come with him because they did not have enough money to send them both. His mother had never been to D.C. before, but because of football she has now been with him a couple of times.
“Here we are now, many, many years later and we are getting to have a chance to have a moment like this,” Swinney said. “So, football matters. Football, and the relationships through football create this opportunity.”
It has been a crazy week for the Tigers since they beat Alabama, 44-16, in the CFP title game. Clemson got back to Tigertown late Tuesday night from Santa Clara last week, started classes on Wednesday, were in the Championship Parade and Celebration on Saturday and Monday were in Washington being recognized by the President of the United States.
“It is great to receive this recognition and see this team honored for its amazing season,” Swinney said.
With its win over Alabama, Clemson became the first 15-0 team in modern football history. The Tigers beat their 15 opponents by an average of 31.6 points per game and won their last 10 games by an average margin of 36.1.
In the CFP, Clemson outscored Notre Dame and Alabama by a score of 74-19. The Tigers also beat Pitt 42-10 in the ACC Championship Game.
“People in my business always talk about the Xs and Os,” Swinney said. “But, this game to me is really about hearts and souls,” Swinney said. “Last Monday, you saw on full display, the heart and soul of this team. They played with a will to win that just would not be denied.”
When looking back, the thing that Swinney enjoyed the most about the 2018 team was the way they played and how hard they always played. He also appreciated the way they won and how they won.
“On the field, 15-0. There is nothing else you can say,” he said. “We had 13 of those 15 wins by 20 points or more. Our seniors had 55 wins in a four-year period, the most in the history of college football. We had the No. 1 scoring defense in the country, and we had the most points ever scored in Clemson history.
“But off the field, because it is just not winning, but it is how you win. Off the field, this very same team that set out to be the best ever, had the best team GPA in the history of our program. We had 66 guys make a 3.0 or better. Our record previously was 56. They shattered it. They went above and beyond in every area. We won the AFCA academic award. We were No. 1 out of 130 teams. Then in New York, back in December, Christian Wilkins won the Academic Heisman, which goes to the top student athlete in all levels of football. So, when I tell you this team was committed to excellence in all areas, they were truly committed.”