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'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 (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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