Dabo Swinney: Clemson coach reflects on his famous rant: ‘That’s why Carolina’s in Chapel Hill and USC’s in California’

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Dabo Swinney told the AJC that he’s never really thought about the enormous reaction by Clemson fans or the general public to his famous “That’s why Carolina’s in Chapel Hill and USC’s in California” rant against South Carolina last December.

Dabo’s rant was the stuff of legends, maybe the most colorful and entertaining quotes of the year from a big-time college football coach. In only a few minutes during an interview before the ACC championship game, Swinney fired a nuclear weapon at his archivals and the sharp-tongued Steve Spurrier. Dabo became an instant YouTube celebrity, caused himself to trend on Twitter, and – most importantly – both reinvigorated and universally rallied Clemson’s fan base.

Meanwhile, South Carolina’s supporters were so shaken and rattled that Dabo’s comments were still the most popular topic of discussion a month later, after the Gamecocks defeated Nebraska in Capital One Bowl for the school’s first-ever 11-win season.

It was Hall of Fame material. Here are some of the best parts:

  • “They ain’t Alabama. They ain’t LSU. And they’re certainly not Clemson. That’s why Carolina’s in Chapel Hill and USC’s in California and the university in this state always has been, always will be Clemson.”
  • “We’ve won more bowl games than they’ve ever been to.”
  • “There’s a lot of rivalries out there. This is more of a domination. And that’s a fact. My kids’ grandkids won’t live long enough to ever see this really become a rivalry.”

What ignited Dabo’s obliteration of the Gamecock Nation? It was South Carolina’s own football Twitter feed that provoked the attack after the Clemson win, quoting Spurrier as saying, “We may not be LSU or Alabama, but we ain’t Clemson, folks.” Spurrier is known for being outspoken and I think everyone could see him saying something like that, but those specific comments were misattributed. They were actually made by Gamecocks radio play-by-play man Todd Ellis.

Clemson's Dabo Swinney:

Clemson's Dabo Swinney's "That's why Carolina's in Chapel Hill and USC's in California" rant was one of the college football's most memorable in recent years. Sports are supposed to be fun, right? A lot of people can't wait to see what wisecrack that Steve Spurrier will think to say about it when he makes the rounds on the booster club circuit later this spring (AP)

Fast forward to now: We asked the Clemson coach on Monday what he thought about the wildly popular reaction to his rant:

“You know, the [reaction] never crossed my mind. That was simply a Thursday night and reacting to a question about something that had kind of lingered all week long. You know, we were getting ready to play in the ACC championship game. I even said at the time that I didn’t know if he [Spurrier] really said it. Obviously, he must have because there has been no retraction or anything like that. I was mad and frustrated, and it just caught me at a bad time. But I didn’t really get caught up in what other people’s reactions were or what they thought about it. I really was focused on trying to win the championship game and put that [loss to South Carolina] behind us at the time. He [Spurrier] came out later that night and said it was a misunderstanding or whatever. And we’ve kind of moved on since that. But that’s really all there is to it.”

Here were some other questions for the Clemson coach:

  • Clemson is located 25 miles from the Georgia border and traditionally recruits the state very well. However, none of Clemson’s recruits from this year were from Georgia. What happened? “It just sort of fluctuates from year to year. So many guys make decisions. Georgia is certainly a state we recruit very hard, and we recruited it hard last year. But we missed out on a couple of guys. And we ended up committing most of our guys early. We had 17 of our 20 signees pretty much committed to us by August. We really were pretty much done as we got into the season. Again, if you’re going to take one wide receiver, you may offer 6-7 guys. When you get the one, you’re done. At least that’s how we operate here. We don’t really get into magical mathematics or any of that kind of stuff. So, from year to year, it varies. For example, some years we may sign several kids out of Florida. Some years, we may only sign one, like this year with Travis Blanks. Next year it will be a different story. But we recruit Georgia like it’s an in-state area for us. We’ve got I believe six coaches recruiting Georgia, and we cover the whole state from top to bottom. I can assure you, we will be there every single year and we’re going to do everything we can to compete and sign players from Georgia. From where we’re located in Clemson, we’re right here at the Georgia line. We’re right here at the North Carolina line. We kind of view both of those states as almost being in-state areas for us.”
  • We talked to FSU’s Jimbo Fisher about this: How much of a challenge is it for a non-SEC school located in SEC territory to recruit against the almighty conference that has won six national championships in a row? “We’ve had back-to-back Top 10 recruiting classes [by ESPN] the first time since the 80’s here at Clemson. So we’ve recruited very well the last couple of years. We’ve sort of revamped our culture here and how we’re doing things … and also just our recruiting process, how we evaluate and all that kind of stuff. We compete with the SEC. We compete with anybody in that league and in our league. Recruiting is just a very competitive situation. As far as how we’re doing, like I said, we’ve had back-to-back Top 10 classes. We’re very appreciative and thankful about the ones we’ve been able to get, and we’re excited about moving forward. I think, through our recruiting, we’ve been able to bring the ACC championship back to Clemson for the first time in 20 years. If we’re going to have the type of program year in and year out that we want to have, then that’s where it starts. So we’ve got to continue to recruit at a high level … Clemson is a national brand. People know the paw. That paw is recognized everywhere, from coast to coast. We’ve really tried hard, quite frankly, in the last three years to re-establish our brand and re-establish some credibility with our brand. We’re certainly not perfect yet. But we’ve accomplished a whole lot. When you go out and gets guys like CJ Spiller, Da’Quan Bowers and Sammy Watkins, you’ll establish credibility really quick. Those are exciting players, and people like to watch them on TV.”
  • Your opinion on over-signing? “I’m not really big on over-signing, as far as how some people may manage it. My philosophy on that is it’s a numbers game and … there’s certain things you don’t control. Sometimes you have a junior that leaves early and things like that. Usually, you can feel comfortable with losing 2-3 guys per year from an attrition standpoint – whether it’s a guy that leaves early for the NFL, a guy that gets hurt, somebody that transfers, and those kind of things. If a guy is not good enough to play, as long as he’s doing what he’s supposed to do, and giving great effort … hey, that’s our fault. We’ve probably under-signed more than anything, because I think there are guys on this team that we try to reward from year to year. We usually have a walk-on or two. Heck, this year, we ended up putting our kicker on scholarship and he ended up being second-team All-ACC. Phillip Price, our starting left tackle this year, is a guy I put on scholarship. He was a big reason we won the ACC title this year. He’s a fifth-year left tackle and [a former] walk-on. So I think everybody has their own way of doing things. Our way has worked well for us. Typically, we don’t get into much over what we have available.”
    After Clemson surprisingly pitched a shutout for Georgia's 2012 recruits, it almost surely won't happen again the next two years. Clemson appears to be the school to beat for Dooly County DL Montravius Adams. Clemson also has a commitment from one of Georgia's top 2014 prospects (AJC)

    After Clemson surprisingly pitched a shutout for Georgia's 2012 recruits, it almost surely won't happen again the next two years. Clemson appears to be the school to beat for Dooly County DL Montravius Adams (pictured). Clemson also has a commitment from one of Georgia's top 2014 prospects (AJC)

  • What is your recruiting sales pitch to Georgia’s top football prospects about Clemson? “This is a wonderful university, first of all. If you come and visit Clemson, then you’re going to fall in love with the campus and the people here. Then to be able to go to a school like Clemson and play in a program like we have, it’s a blessing. It’s a privilege. I think there’s a lot of good schools and there’s a lot of good options. But there’s only one Clemson. I think Clemson is unique. I think if people come here and they really take a look, we usually have a great shot. This is a program on the rise. I’ve been here as the head coach for three years, and we’ve won two division titles and an ACC title. We’re on the rise. And we’re on the way to being one of the elite programs in college football. We’ve got lots of work to do. We’re very humbled with how we do things here. We’re proud of the program, and we’re excited about the future. Any young person that’s out there that’s looking to grow and mature as a student-athlete, they ought to consider Clemson.”

Clemson is highly unlikely to pitch another recruiting shutout in Georgia for 2013. The Tigers have a shot at landing two of the state’s top three prospects: Grayson’s Robert Nkemdiche made his second visit in two weeks to Clemson on Monday, while the Tigers are believed to be the school to beat for Dooly County DE Montravius Adams, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 7 overall prospect by 247sports.com and No. 11 by Scout.com.

Clemson is also the leader (ahead of UGA and Georgia Tech, among others) for Grayson RB Wayne Gallman, and has inside position for emerging Milton WR-DB Ryan Jenkins, whose older brother plays for the Tigers.

This past signing day, Clemson got an extra early commitment from a super sophomore who is a candidate to be Georgia’s top overall prospect for 2014 – Gainesville QB DeShaun Watson.

SINCE THE WEEKEND …

IT’S RAINING RECRUITING STORIES

IT’S NEVER BORING IN THE WACKY WORLD OF RECRUITING

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

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Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

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122 comments Add your comment

Beast from the East

March 13th, 2012
6:29 am

“I think, through our recruiting, we’ve been able to bring the ACC championship back to Clemson for the first time in 20 years.”

Coach, what does is say about your conference when a team from the Big Easy hangs 70 on the ACC Champ while the SEC is busy winning it’s 6th straight BCS championship?

We’ll be eagerly awaiting your response…

bkbroila

March 13th, 2012
6:41 am

Dabo Swinney is a Dork! Nuff said….

We Run the East

March 13th, 2012
6:46 am

Dumbo Weenie is getting his butt handed to him by SC every year. Very pitiful effort this year versus SC (his QB quit playing), beat a stinky VT team (VT must have been awful to lose to this bunch), and then the most humiliating loss in the last 20 yrs in college football to WV. Clemson is now a joke, totally irreleveant in recruiting and high level football. Dumbo is a joke and everyone except Klimpson people know it. Quit talking and try coaching. You are Coach SS b*tch.

carolinascooter

March 13th, 2012
6:46 am

…1-4 against the ole’ ball coach. Tweet that! Who goes on a rant like that when your rival has handed your ass to you last years?

We Run the East

March 13th, 2012
6:55 am

People know the Paw? Know it stands for mediocrity! No signees from state of GA, a football rich state, shows how weak Clemson is. We know Spurreir is recruiting GA players with some success. I can not imagine any school that is so close to GA not getting ANY recruits from GA. Nkemdeche headed to Clemson? Not in a million years- your defense gave up 70 and you are now a laughing stock. Hopefully he is smarter than that.

Dawg Bounty Hunter

March 13th, 2012
7:03 am

go UGA Bull Dawgs !!!!

Destin Dawg

March 13th, 2012
7:05 am

Richt and Grantham extended… Dawgs win the East… SEC. vs. Alabama… Go Dawgs !!

dean

March 13th, 2012
7:06 am

There was a time that Clemson was a powerhouse. That time has long passed. Every year it sems that they may be trending upward and then the wheels come off. Much like FSU, I think in the ACC they play down to the competition. Yes, they have much more history than the USC in Columbia but is there much doubt that given 50 years that USC will have as much, if not more history. Even though they are a less thought-about UGA rivalry, I was hopefull they’d be allowed to join the SEC. It is a pretty campus, I’ll give him that.

Bandwagon Bammer

March 13th, 2012
7:31 am

MC is always about 2 months behind what is going on. Adams has Georgia as his leader not Clemson.

JB

March 13th, 2012
7:36 am

Sprurrier is a great coach but a classless a$$. Richt is a soso coach, but is a class act. That’s life.

FL Jacket

March 13th, 2012
7:47 am

“This is a wonderful university, first of all. If you come and visit Clemson, then you’re going to fall in love with the campus and the people here. Then to be able to go to a school like Clemson and play in a program like we have, it’s a blessing. It’s a privilege. I think there’s a lot of good schools and there’s a lot of good options. But there’s only one Clemson.”

TRANSLATION: “The campus is beautiful, the girls are pretty. There’s most likely better academic schools out there. Clemson pays me a bunch of money, so even though it’s pretty much like every other big state school in the South…I happen to think its unique.”

Ash2k

March 13th, 2012
8:11 am

Keep at it Dabo. You are loaded with talent and can’t beat rivals like USC or Tech consistently or finish a season without falling apart. Maybe someday you will get it right.

Just Saying

March 13th, 2012
8:20 am

Oh Dabo son the Clempson Athletic Dept keeps hiring new coaches and paying them big bucks trying to prop up your anemic coaching. You may make a glowing pre-game rant, but when S Car then drubs you and W VA puts 70 on you in the Orange Bowl it quickly turns from an encouraging pre-game fire em up talk to a clown running his mouth aimlessly. S Car is THE University in the Palmeto State.

Daniel Sloope

March 13th, 2012
8:43 am

I like to believe in Karma and that one day all those truly deserving….

7576DAWG

March 13th, 2012
8:51 am

I am unbiased when it comes to Clemson because they are not in the SEC. In my opinion Swinney’s rant wasn’t even good enough to be used by a high school coach and certainly doesn’t need to go down as legendary. He came across as being all mouth.
I have never been to Clemson for a visit so I don’t know how I would rank it as somewhere I would consider going to college, it may be great but I do know that Swinney is a WANT-A-BE right now when comparing him to the average SEC team’s head coach. Maybe 10 years from now he will EARN the right. It’s just a little early right now.

Cdpridg

March 13th, 2012
8:56 am

However these palmetto state schools want to look at themselves…they are both average programs on their best years

Its Real on the Hill

March 13th, 2012
9:02 am

Clemson just Offered Carver-Columbus -WR Marqui Hawkins this past weekend.

Ron Burgundy

March 13th, 2012
9:04 am

Dabo,
Keep yammerin’ on about Clemson’s history of which you have had no significant contribution. Congrats on winning a watered down ACC trophy and then representing your conference by getting it handed to you 70-33.
34-17
29-7
34-13
Let us know when you are ready to play big boy football.

Gamecockrock

March 13th, 2012
9:06 am

We hope Klempsin keeps this clown forever. He has beaten no one and USC now just owns them. All those recruits every year. Sigh…

RxDawg

March 13th, 2012
9:09 am

Clemson and Auburn, sister schools in every way

FL Jacket

March 13th, 2012
9:09 am

7576…

And you wonder why people hate the SEC so much with arrogant comments like that…especially since UGA really loves to lump themselves in to the accomplishments made by Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Auburn. Big friggin’ deal…your record is the same as Tech’s the last 4 years.

You are honestly saying that James Franklin, Joker Phillips, Hugh Freeze, and Dan Mullen are better coaches and recruiters than Dabo? They whipped Auburn this past year. Tech has owned Clemson the last 4 years, but even I understand that runs a pretty darn good program. And it isn’t just all about the here and now…there’s something about having a tradition that lets you know it going to be here tomorrow too.

Taco Meat

March 13th, 2012
9:14 am

Clemson, a national powerhouse? Excuse me…

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA……(comes up for air)…..AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

One reason they may be getting snubbed for recruits is that town. Seriously, has anyone ever seen Clemson, SC?! The local Walmart is the main attraction.

lucky21

March 13th, 2012
9:29 am

Clemson got rocked by an ok GT team too

Pawpower

March 13th, 2012
9:32 am

BKbroila, speaking of dorks. Your screen name represents an OVEN. What cha cooking besides ignorants. I bet you were thinking on the bad boy side of your screen name. So try this idiot, BRAWLER. Put that dunce cap back where it belongs. On your head, dork/idiot. LMAO @ U !!!

maharajiean shorts

March 13th, 2012
9:35 am

“One reason they may be getting snubbed for recruits is that town. Seriously, has anyone ever seen Clemson, SC?! The local Walmart is the main attraction.”
AMEN BROTHA.

WnE

March 13th, 2012
9:45 am

re:
Again, if you’re going to take one wide receiver, you may offer 6-7 guys. When you get the one, you’re done. At least that’s how we operate here. We don’t really get into magical mathematics or any of that kind of stuff.
____________________

That quote above from Dabo shows that even former Bama Players and former Bama Asst. coaches know that over-signing is WRONG.

“Magical Mathematics”……………..priceless comment.

And just because Dabo hasn’t won a bunch of MNCs that doesn’t mean that his comment is WRONG.

Bad behavior is bad behavior regardless of whether or not you won a MNC at the end of the season.

Paul From Milton

March 13th, 2012
9:53 am

What does SOS say this offseason? Well, he might mention that his team didn’t have 70 hung on them by West Virginia. And he might mention that it could have been a lot worse if West Virginia hadn’t put in their scrubs and started running the ball midway through the third quarter.

Uh, Clemson doesn't have...

March 13th, 2012
9:53 am

…a local Walmart – you have to go to Anderson, SC or Seneca, SC to go to the closest Walmart…

But, they are close to Lake Keowee and all those multi-million dollar lake homes to which the Atlanta CEO’s like to retire…not mention that they are ON Lake Hartwell, the lake on which the UGA coach used to (and may still) have a lake house…

ElvinBishopBand

March 13th, 2012
9:56 am

You folks act as though Dabo has been at Clemson for years! Taking over from Bowden after Nick and Bama beat the sheet out of them in 2008 was a tuff deal. I will say he has to have a very good year in 2012 to hold his spot. The hiring of Kevin Steele from Bama was thought to be a great move but as seen Kevin is a Big Hat with No Cattle as a DC. Good position coach but no DC. If Clemson doesn’t beat the Bobby Lowder School of Banking in game #1 then he will be in big trouble right off the bat.

FL Jacket

March 13th, 2012
9:56 am

Ohhh WnE…

Seems like you prefer coaches who do things ethically and run a High School offense (Chad Morris OC) after all!

1eyedJack

March 13th, 2012
9:57 am

If you can’t beat GT then you should just shut your pie-hole.

Flo-Ri-Duh

March 13th, 2012
10:03 am

Last time Clemson was any good Dabo was in kindergarten. Montravius Adams never has said Clemson is his leader and as for Gallman – UGA has other recruits rated ahead of him.

Abo

March 13th, 2012
10:04 am

Abo Swinney (no d, ask WVU) is a cheerleader. Nothing more. A Laughing stock. Amazing that the AJC would write a story about a tirade he had after getting the snot beat out of him by Carolina for the 3rd year in a row.

Tiger

March 13th, 2012
10:09 am

As a Clemson grad this is embarrassing. Getting your butt handed to you 3 years in a row is not the time to talk smack. I was hoping this would go away.

David

March 13th, 2012
10:16 am

That entire “rant” was scripted, from the reporter who offered up the question to the rant itself. Why you even report this as though it was spontaneous reflects poorly on your own credibility.

Big Worm

March 13th, 2012
10:30 am

It says a lot about a head coach when you only have 2 years left on your contract but your offensive coordinator has 6. If Dabo loses to Carolina again and/or wins less than 9 games he’ll be gone and “The Chad” will be running the show in Tater Town.

Big Worm

March 13th, 2012
10:39 am

By the way, this might be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. What is “ignorants?”

BKbroila, speaking of dorks. Your screen name represents an OVEN. What cha cooking besides ignorants. I bet you were thinking on the bad boy side of your screen name. So try this idiot, BRAWLER. Put that dunce cap back where it belongs. On your head, dork/idiot. LMAO @ U !!!

Atlanta GC

March 13th, 2012
10:56 am

“Meanwhile, South Carolina’s supporters were so shaken and rattled that Dabo’s comments were still the most popular topic of discussion a month later…”

You really cannot be serious with this comment. We were shaken and rattled by throttling Dabo for the third straight year (by 20+ points again) and then stayed up to watch all 70 points get hung on them.

..and as for the entire “rant”…it was the most staged media event in Clemson all year. The question was a plant and his “rant” was a practiced speech.

Gerald

March 13th, 2012
11:00 am

FL Jacket:

You are hilarious. It isn’t the SEC’s fault that the ACC stinks in football. (And lately hasn’t even been that good in basketball either.) And by the way: put James Franklin or Hugh Freeze in Clemson, and they win a BCS game. Put Dabo Swinney at Vanderbilt or Arkansas State, and he lasts 2 years, tops.

tigrjm76

March 13th, 2012
11:05 am

these mental midget gamecocks are doing anything to keep their minds off what happened to unc yesterday. sorry, though. your judgment day is coming.
what really annoys the chickens is that nothing swinney said is untrue. usuck is a second rate university whom Clemson passed decades ago both academically and athletically. the fact that usuck (soon to be on probation again) has won a few games in a row is merely a blip on the historical record–hell, even France won a war once.

Seriously?

March 13th, 2012
11:26 am

Yeah, we were so “shaken” that #daboswinneyproblems trended on twitter from everyone making fun of the man. All American baseball players that have also dominated Clemson even got in on the action. Must be a slow day in Atlanta.

A person SMART enough to know......

March 13th, 2012
11:28 am

National Titles
1980 UGa 32 years ago
1981 Clemson 31years ago
Conference Champs
2005 UGa 7 years ago….’80-82′, 02′
2011 Clemson 1 year ago….81′, 82′, ‘86-88′, 91′

It seems Clemson has won Championships on all levels more recently than UGa.

Seriously, you call yourselves COCKS?

March 13th, 2012
11:29 am

FACT: Ask someone outside the state about USC, you’ll hear TROJANS.
FACT: Ask someone outside the state about CAROLINA….TARHEELS.
FACT: There is a reason that in SC, USC stands for University of Second Choice.

Nothing Swinney said was untrue. Was it bad timing? Most definetly. But it was TRUE.

And all of you wo want to laugh had better get it out of your system now. With the addition of Venebles, and the improvement on defense to come, teams will be lucky to get 70 YARDS. Get ready. You know it’s coming.

TWEET THAT, BITCHES!

Abo

March 13th, 2012
11:31 am

@tigrjm76 Scoreboard x3, Omaha x2.

John

March 13th, 2012
11:32 am

tigrjm76:

Oh yeah, right. Like all those Rhodes Scholars are just clamoring to get into Clemson. Nobody outside SC and NE GA even know where the place is.

This is the biggest plate of hogwash in which Clemsonites love to mislead. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, knows that (a) Clemson skewed the rules as well as the results to gain a ranking with USN&WR (meanwhile, go look at a real list, say like the one published by Princeton, which ranks schools like UGA and SC well above mighty Clemson), and (b) that Dabo’s rant was scripted. Seriously, what moron goes on a rant after having his azz handed to him by SC for the 3rd consecutive year? He’s a desperate idiot. 2012 will be his last year, following yet another loss to SC (and probably GT and FSU too).

Who cares about the school’s alleged beauty? France is a beautiful place too. They’re still idiots.

Abo

March 13th, 2012
11:38 am

70 yards from a DC that was demoted by Stoops and gave up nearly 400/game last year? #delusionsofgrandeur

tigrjm76

March 13th, 2012
11:42 am

well, john—the instance you’re talking about—which happened years ago (and nothing was “skewered” despite your statement otherwise)—doesn’t alter every collegiate ranking before or since.
chickens don’t want to admit that Swinney was merely responding to a statement from usuck (initially attributed to Spurrier by the media, later to their intellectually-challenged pbp boob).
again, john—I can link NUMEROUS collegiate ranking services for years showing Clemson ranked considerably ahead of usuck and you know its true. and the fact you mentioned UGa underscores the vicarious living usuck reaps from other schools in the SEC.
regardless, don’t you guys need to be focusing on the pending NCAA hammer about to drop—and now replacing Darren “Alfalfa” Horn?????

HighTech

March 13th, 2012
11:49 am

Dabo Swinney is just so gosh darn proud of his team.

SimpleDawg

March 13th, 2012
11:52 am

ATL GC has it right. Dat Boy looked up every bit of info in his “rant” and had it rehearsed down to a T. He couldn’t have done it better if he had one of Obammy’s teleprompters……

…..and then to discover that Spurrier didn’t even say it? Hilarious.

Clempson is getting better, and Dat Boy is a good “head” coach…..a good organizer, a good leader, a good front man, but he lives and dies with his coordinators – just like most other head coaches.

Like Bear said once, “If the SOB doesn’t know something I don’t know, I don’t need him.”

Carry on, Dat Boy.

John

March 13th, 2012
11:56 am

tigrjm76:

I’m not a chicken. That’s my point. I’ve heard for years from Clemsonites about their lofty academic ranking in USN&WR, yet is was debunked a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, much more legit ranking services have Clemson way down the list, behind UGA and SC. Couple that with the fact that Clemson athletics is nothing above mediocre these days, what’s left? The answer is “not much.” If anything, y’all sound like squawking chickens. Meanwhile, I’ve taken note that SC is beating you guys in everything lately. Whatever.