Dabo Swinney admitted after hearing there was talk the Big Ten was seriously discussing postponing their football season, he wondered if anyone would get to play college football this season.
This was the Saturday before the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced their decisions to postpone the fall sports season on Aug. 11. Prior to that moment, Swinney and his Clemson team felt good about playing, especially when they began walkthroughs in mid-July.
However, just a few days after the Tigers began fall camp, Swinney received an email that warned him the Big Ten could cancel their season. So, before Clemson hit the practice fields that afternoon, Swinney addressed his team about the situation and issued a challenge to them.
“I said, ‘If you guys want to play, you are going to have to change the narrative from a players’ perspective. Because the narrative is, we are making everybody play and that is just not reality.’ Everybody here is a volunteer,” Swinney said. “Nobody has to be here. No coach, no player. Our players came out and fought for our season.”
It started with his quarterback. That evening, Trevor Lawrence tweeted how he wanted to play in 2020 and his teammates followed. Soon players all over the country started retweeting and quote tweeting Lawrence’s message. It led to a players’ movement from coast to coast.
“That was the only time, to me, that our players … that Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, that kind of a few days there, where I felt like nobody really knew,” Swinney said.
Swinney said the Tigers tried not to focus on it. They focused on what they could control, which is what the Clemson coach has told them since the very beginning when the pandemic shut down the sports world in March.
“‘Here is what got. We got to today. And we are on the field and we got today. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never come. Today is the gift. That’s why they call it the present. So, lets win today, it is the best of one. Let’s just get the best of today.’
“That’s been the mentality that our guys have embraced,” Swinney said. “They may call us tomorrow and tell us we can’t play anymore, but man we get to play today. So, lets enjoy it. So, that has really been our mindset the whole time. Once we got past that point and the ACC, SEC and Big 12 said, ‘Hey, we are playing.’ I think we all fully expected to play.”
Which last Saturday Clemson and most of the ACC and some of the Big 12 did, along with teams from the Sun Belt, Conference USA and the AAC. The Tigers, the No. 1 in the country, knocked off Wake Forest, 37-13, in its opener and will host The Citadel this Saturday at 4 p.m.
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