College Football: Swinney looking for win at Clemson
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2008
CLEMSON, S.C. ó Dabo Swinney’s kissed the Rock and walked among fans. He’s taken his players to a children’s hospital and romped with students at practice. Now, Clemson’s interim coach has another task in mind ó winning.
Unbridled enthusiasm like Swinney’s two-armed hug and kiss of Howard’s Rock before the Georgia Tech game on Oct. 18 can only last so long ó and Swinney knows that better than anyone.
“There’s no excuses here, this is Clemson,” Swinney said Tuesday. “This place was built on winning.”
The Tigers (3-4, 1-3 ACC) have lost three in a row, their longest such streak since 2005. The slide was devastating to the program, as longtime coach Tommy Bowden stepped aside.
Swinney was handed the job of revitalizing the Tigers just five days before facing the Yellow Jackets. So he concentrated on the emotional, holding a team Tiger Walk among fans before the game that left him and players choked up and red-eyed.
When Georgia Tech rallied for a 21-17 victory, Swinney said he didn’t give a “rat’s tail” about the scoreboard that week.
That attitude will change in November.
Since only one of Clemson’s two victories over Football Championship Subdivision opponents will count toward its bowl eligibility, the Tigers have to win four of their final five simply to be able to play in December.
That’s a disastrous situation for a team picked in the preseason as the ACC’s favorite.
How did Clemson get here? Swinney thinks it’s in the team’s heads.
He says somewhere during the offseason, the Tigers lost their fiery conviction that they would make game-winning plays and not opponents.
Swinney compared his team to a tricked-out car. Despite its style, it doesn’t get you anywhere.
“Somewhere along the way, we caught a flat tire. We’re low on gas,” the coach said.