Dabo Swinney: 'I'm thankful we don't live in that world'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday November 15, 2016


Can a loss help a team? It’s all Dabo Swinney has ever known.

Clemson had been dodging bullets this year, narrowly beating several teams before Pitt got them this weekend, ending several streaks, like Clemson’s 45-game winning streak against unranked team. So Swinney was asked if he’s seen a loss take the pressure away.

“Just my whole life,” he said. “I think that’s a sexy answer after you get beat. You try to answer the question somehow, something that sounds good. I don’t know anything other than (pressure). I spent 13 years at Alabama, and this is my 14th year at Clemson. So I don’t know anything other than ‘We’re supposed to win.’ There’s pressure to win every week, and I like that pressure. I love that. I embrace that. Always have.

“To me, there’s more pressure when you’re not expected to win. To me, there’s more pressure in that, when you’re really not good enough, and you need this and that to happen. That ain’t the kind of pressure I like. I like the pressure of knowing you’ve got a good team and you’re expected to win. That’s all I’ve ever known. My whole like, yeah, when we’ve lost, it’s not good, but we’ve always tried to get better.”

That’s what Swinney’s had at Clemson.

“We lost two years ago and beat Georgia State then South Carolina then Oklahoma and won 14 in a row,” he said. “Then we lost in the national championship game. Well, we came back and won nine in a row. I know that’s expected, but it’s not easy. Now we lost one. So we’ve got a chance to start a new streak. That’s what we’ll focus on.”

The Tigers finish with games at Wake Forest and South Carolina. If they beat the Demon Deacons, they win the division and head to the ACC Championship Game, with a playoff berth also in the mix.

As Swinney put it, when the confetti fell on Alabama last season, people didn’t add, “but you lost to Ole Miss.” They just handed the Tide the trophy. You move on after a loss.

“When we’ve lost games, we’ve responded, improved and gotten better,” he said. “The world didn’t come to an end. Good lord of mercy. Two years ago, we lost a regular season game down at Georgia Tech when Deshaun got hurt. Man, the world was over. We’ll never win another game. How could you win a game with Cole Stoudt? No way. All he did was get MVP of the bowl game.

I’m thankful we don’t live in that world. We get to do something about it. That’s what we try to do. We try to respond, take action. We’ve built this windshield mentality in our program, and that’s what we try to live by. What’s next? Yeah, it matters what happened, how do we learn from it and get better and give ourselves a chance to win? That’s what we focus on. The rest of it doesn’t matter.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.