In seven games, Clemson has gone from being the No. 2 team in the country to unranked and all but out of contention for another ACC Championship.
Fans are frustrated and the media has started to resemble buzzards circling their dead prey. Head coach Dabo Swinney made an appearance on local radio station WCCP on Wednesday, calling for the fan base to step away from the ledge and have a little patience.
“I want everybody to just relax,” said Swinney. “I want everybody to keep some faith. I want to challenge everyone to really kinda check their perspective.”
Swinney once again took the opportunity to defend his coaching staff, reminding the fans that they have more than proven themselves over the past few years. He also noted that there is still a lot of football left to be played this season.
“If you don’t believe in this coaching staff and this team and the culture we have at Clemson after what everybody has lived through over the last whatever then you probably didn’t believe in the first place. We have, not a good, but a great group of young men that fight their butt off. We’ve stunk on offense and there’s no question about that and we know. We haven’t forgotten football, we know the issues. And we’re going to get better and we’re getting better.”
“And as bad as we’ve been, we’re still a gnat’s hair from being undefeated. And that’s the reality. And here’s the other thing, we’ve got a great group of young people that are learning a lot of great lessons. And we’ve got a long way to go this year. And we’re going to fight our butt off as a staff and a team to finish the best possible way we can.”
The head coach went onto say that while no one is more disappointed in how the Tigers have performed than he is, but at the same time the adversity his program is facing is a good reminder of how extremely difficult it is to win at a high level for such an extended period of time.
“If nothing else comes from this, I hope that it’s a reset and an appreciation of how hard it is to win,” Swinney said. “It is not easy to win. I think everybody can get numb and take it for granted. Ten 10-plus win seasons in a row is the third-longest streak in the history of college football history. You know why? Because it’s hard to win and especially to win consistently.”
“We may not make a seventh Playoff in a row but we made six in a row and nobody’s ever done that. Not Alabama. Not anybody. You know why? Because it’s hard to do that. It’s really, really hard. We’ve got six wins in the Playoff. Alabama has eight. We’ve beaten the best of the best on the biggest stage. Tony Elliott has not forgotten football. He’s one of the smartest, brightest people on the planet.”
Swinney cautioned the fanbase against turning on one another, reminding the audience how divided the fans were when he was hired full-time and while his team is absolutely struggling right now, the head coach is fully confident that Clemson isn’t quite done yet.
“When I got the job, Clemson was so frickin divided,” said Swinney. “Pathetically divided. Alright? This is not a time for division. This is a time to roll your frickin sleeves up and get behind this team and get behind this staff and have some dadgum faith and some trust. I’m the same guy that’s been a part of two national championships. Tony Elliott is the same guy that has in three national championship (games) with Alabama — has won two of them and the one we lost was 45-40 with almost 600 yards. We haven’t forgotten football, but football can be a very challenging thing at times. You have development. You have maturity. You have injuries. You have limitations from time to time for different reasons. Nobody is entitled to win. Nobody is entitled to it and you have to earn that and I hope there can be a reset and an appreciation for how hard it is to win and especially to win consistently because it’s not easy. It’s not.
“But I can guarantee you this, Clemson ain’t going anywhere. What an unbelievable journey it’s been the last 13 years. In ’09, there weren’t three people outside of my mom, my wife and Koolaid Jim (a frequent caller to radio shows), wherever he is, who thought we could go on a run like we have over the last 13 years. And over these last 13 years, we’ve had some challenging moments.”
Clemson and Florida State have released depth charts ahead of this weekend’s matchup at Death Valley.
Clemson vs Florida Atlantic: Depth Charts
The ninth-ranked Tigers will travel to Duke to face off with the Blue Devils. Kickoff is set for 8 pm and the game will be televised by ESPN.