Some wonder how the coronavirus pandemic might affect football. It already has at the college level.
Most schools have missed most, if not all, of its spring practices. College campuses have been shut down all over the country, meaning players cannot access their football buildings for workouts, rehab or nutrition.
The players are literally on their own until schools lift their campus bans. At Clemson, it is supposed to end on May 8, which is right before the school is expected to begin its first summer school sessions. The Clemson football team will normally begin its summer workouts at that time.
In the meantime, what the Tigers do over the next six weeks will go a long way in determining how far they can go in December and January. And of course, at Clemson, that goal is to always make it to the College Football Playoff and beyond.
Some wonder who will survive the COVID-19 pandemic? That is from a being ready to play standpoint. Most believe the schools that have the best players and coaches will be able to bounce back, schools such as Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia and LSU. And though that is true to a certain point, how will the players at all of those schools respond to being on their own?
In cases like this, it all comes down to who has the most leadership and discipline that rise to the top. If you’re going to pick one school or group of players to survive being away this long from the coaches and all the advantages players have in today’s college football, you have to give the edge to Clemson.
Because of the culture head coach Dabo Swinney has built there.
Way back when he first got the job in 2009, Swinney put a plan in place to make Clemson successful. He built a culture based on love, family and working as one for a common goal. He has stressed no one person, coach or player is bigger than the program. And by working hard at doing the little things right, when no one else is around or no one else is watching, they will be successful.
The saying at Clemson is “Best is the Standard.” And Swinney, his coaches and players just don’t say it, but they live it.
“It is something that isn’t just talked about. It is lived,” Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “I think what has happened is when people come in, they think, ‘Can it really be like that? Is Coach Swinney really the guy he says he is?’”
Elliott gave an example of a Division II coach who came to visit Clemson recently wanting to learn what the Tigers were doing. While he was talking to Elliott and the other coaches about football, Swinney came and pulled him out of the meeting and asked could he speak to him.
“That guy’s brother sent an email and Coach Swinney read his brother’s email and wanted to relay that message to this coach,” Elliott recalled. “He is a genuine guy, right, and it resonates with everybody within the program. Then when people come from the outside and look at it, then they can see that this is for real and I think they think they can go back and now have the conviction to try and emulate it.
“Whereas, if they don’t see it when they come, then they are not able to go back and have the conviction to go back and try to emulate it. And for those who are in the situation who have the conviction, but just may not have the courage to do it, when they leave here, they have the courage because they can see the success with it.”
As for all the former and current players who have played under Swinney, Elliott says they have all seen it. They know what conviction and courage it takes to get the job done and to be successful, and they are all willing to do it the right way.
“There are coaches that have had opportunities, it is just not myself but there is a lot of support staff that have opportunities year in and year out to leave, but they believe in what we are doing here,” he said.
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