Dabo Swinney: To say one rivalry game discounts everything is a lack of respect

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday November 26, 2014

Dabo Swinney beat South Carolina as Clemson’s interim head coach in 2008, and it was a big part of him getting the permanent job. But since then, South Carolina has won five straight in the rivalry.

The success of both teams in the state has only intensified the rivalry, along with the verbal jabs Swinney and Steve Spurrier throw back and forth.

But for all of Clemson’s success, the struggles against the Gamecocks are weighing things down in the eyes of some fans. At Swinney’s weekly press conference, the coach was asked if he is “haunted” by the fact they’ve lost five in a row. Swinney pushed back, saying it doesn’t take away from the other success.

“I'm disappointed and just as disappointed as anybody else, but I don't sit around and just focus on the negative,” he said. “That's the society we live in, that's the world we live in where there are a lot of people out there that they're miserable people for that reason. All they want to focus on is the negative. That's it. When you live your life that way, you're never going to be happy. So no, I don't sit around and wake up every day miserable with life because we've got one major disappointment over the last few years. We've done too many great things.

“I know, I've been part of many rivalry games. I know these things can be cyclical and we've just got to turn around. You've got to be honest. We understand reality and not the perception. We know what the reality is. The reality is we've lost five in a row, and nobody's happy about it. We know why. We know what we've got to do to turn that around, but we've got to go do it. But to sit here and say that this one game completely discounts everything that's been accomplished at Clemson the last six years is crazy. That's really a lack of respect for our players for what they've been able to do, because if it was easy to do what this group has done the last six years, it would have been done a lot more the previous 20, 30 years.

“So I think that you certainly can't stick your head in the mud and just not pay attention to the negative. I mean, we're always trying to get better, and this is an area we've got to get better. There is no doubt about it.  But to say that it just takes away from everything we've accomplished, I think that's a very narrow way to look at it.”

Swinney was also asked if the recent results have changed how he approaches this game. Do you try to deflect pressure away from your team?

“There is no way to deflect pressure,” Swinney said. “It's not like we live in a cave  I mean, us coaches do, but these young players, I mean, we come in as coaches and we're a bunker mentality every week. There are things that go on that I have no idea what's going on outside of these walls unless somebody tells me. But our players don't live in that world. We will get them 17 hours Monday through Friday. That's it, because three hours count on the game, that would be the 20. So there are a lot more hours in the week than 17, where we can kind of lock them up. 

“It is what it is. If we don't like it, let's go change it. We have a plan to win. It doesn't change from week to week. It is what it is. Let's execute the plan to win. Let's take ownership of what we've got to do to win each and every game. In this day and age, you can't insulate your players from negativities. You have to create a culture in your program that hopefully teaches your guys what's important, what's not important, what to listen to, what not to listen to and those type of things.”

Clemson and South Carolina kick off at noon on Saturday on ESPN.

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.