Elliott defends Swinney, says media treated him unfairly

Elliott defends Swinney, says media treated him unfairly


Elliott defends Swinney, says media treated him unfairly


Tony Elliott says his friend, mentor and boss was not treated fairly by some in the media earlier this summer during the events surrounding what happened with the Black Lives Matter Movement and the way he handled the Danny Pearman situation.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney received harsh criticism by the national media when they did not like the way he addressed the conversations surrounding the death of George Floyd to their liking. He then was attacked and questioned when a picture on social media showed him wearing a Football Matters T-shirt at a gated community swimming pool.

At the same time, he was being scrutinized for not coming out and addressing the Pearman situation or the T-shirt in a timely manner. Swinney eventually addressed both incidents, as well as his support for the Black Lives Matter Movement in a 14-minute video and then in a nine-minute speech during the Clemson Community’s Peaceful Protest in June.

However, none of that mattered, as Swinney was still attacked by shock-jock hosts Shannon Sharpe, Skip Blas and others, as well as national columnist and writers for ESPN, USA TODAY and others.

“It is unfair and unfortunate for Coach that people who don’t know him can have an opinion and then can have a platform to voice their opinion,” said Elliott, Clemson’s offensive coordinator and running backs coach. “But I think that everybody around Coach Swinney, that has a relationship, knows that he is not anything that they betray him to be.”

No one knows Swinney as well as Elliott. He played under Swinney at Clemson when Swinney was his position coach in 2003. The two became close friends and Swinney later hired Elliott to be his running backs coach in 2011. By the end of the 2014 season, he was elevated to co-offensive coordinator and now he is the solo offensive coordinator.

Overall, Elliott’s and Swinney’s relationship goes back 17 years.

“He is one of the most genuine people that you are ever going to meet. He is like a father to me,” Elliott said. “A lot of things that I have instilled in my family, I have gotten from him. He truly values every person. He looks for the good in everybody and he has his own special way of accentuating that good in everybody.

“You look at what this program has been able to do in terms of changing college football. I don’t believe that is possible if the person that they were trying to say he is, is. The only way that is possible is for him to be who he is and that is to be a genuine person that stands up for his faith.”

Elliott does not believe Swinney has done anything wrong. He knows he cannot please everyone, and he is just himself whether people like him or not.

“It is unfortunate that people will take an opportunity [to hurt him], but we understand as a program, and we understand as individuals, that with success comes scrutiny,” Elliott said. “He talks about that all the time and we understand that it is all about perspective. And for us, the perspective is we must be doing something right. Our program must be making a difference and making a change if it is going to be attacked that way.

“So on the surface, you have some frustration because somebody that you love, somebody that you actually care about his being attacked and his actual character is being attacked, but you know it is not true and it is not warranted. But you understand the context and the climate that we are in, so it was pretty challenging.”

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