Dabo Swinney Complete Statement on Fans Needing a Realignment

Zach Lentz

Staff member
Yeah. I don't pay attention to all that stuff, but you know it's there, right? And then especially when you've got all kind of stuff coming at you from different sides. I mean, we've won three national championships in 127 years, and the problem is we've won two in seven so sometimes that can create a loss of perspective. And I think when you lose perspective, you lose your joy.

I think that's made Clemson unique and special, is this place has always had a lot of fun. You guys that have been around here back in February of '11 when we signed that class and we had that signing day, if I would've said to all of y'all coming off of six wins right there, "Hey, here's what's fixing to happen the next 12 years, Pete, I know we hadn't won 11 games in 31 years, but we're going to go do it 8 times in 11 years. I know we hadn't won 10 games in 20 years, but we're fixing to do it 12 years in a row. I know we hadn't won a national championship since 1981, but we're going to go to six final fours, we're going to win two national championships and come up on side kick of winning another one, and we're going to win 12 straight post-season games 12 years in a row. Nobody's ever done that in college football. Oh, and by the way, we're going to graduate 98% of our guys, and we're going to have 13 top 15 recruiting classes in a row."

Y'all would have all looked at me like I was crazy. The [inaudible 00:03:46] would say, "Hey, well sign me up for that." All right? And it's not that we've been perfect every year, and we're never going to be perfect every year, but man, we've had a lot of joy in the journey.

And I think when you lose perspective of that and how hard it is, it's like again, when we won the ACC Championship up there in Charlotte in '11, there were 5,000 people at the West End Zone. It was unbelievable. Couldn't even get off the bus. 5,000 people. Now there ain't nobody there. Now ain't no big deal. And I think that's sad.

I get it. I spent 13 years at Alabama. I know, and I've always wanted to make sure that I kept the right perspective, that I stay focused on my purpose, that this stays a purpose driven program, that we don't lose focus on our why, that we don't ever lose joy in our journey. Because that's part of my responsibility as I lead a group of people, a lot of people in these walls here. So it's been an incredible journey and God doesn't give us that, right? He doesn't just say, "Hey, here you go, here's the next 12 years." You just put your head down and God just gives us just enough light to take that next step. And we just keep going. A lamp onto your path, just enough light so you don't stomp your toe going to the bathroom.

Our program's never been better, ever. We're off to a better start this decade than we were last decade. But again, sometimes people can lose perspective. We've raised the bar here, we've changed the standard, we've changed the expectations, and I love that. But as we strive to meet and exceed those expectations every single year, we got to keep the right perspective and we got to have joy in the journey. I mean, listen, things can happen. I mean, something can happen. You can be a great team, but maybe you don't win the national championship. That doesn't mean your team wasn't committed. That doesn't mean you have a lot of character.

People work their butts off around here and we all want to win every single game, but there is no triumph without some great failure or challenge or setback or whatever along the way. It's always a part of your journey, and it's all good. And man, you start over every year and you go to work. But man, what's happened in this program the last 12 years is it's historic. And it's been done by a lot of people. All I've done is my part.

That's all I've done. But man, these players, the staff, all the support staff that have come through this program for years and what's gone on here, I mean, 12 years of 10 plus wins, Alabama's had 15. The next longest streak is two. And for us to act like we're a bunch of failures around here because we only won 11 and won the League and we lost our rival in state for the first time in a decade, I just think that's a bad mentality. Again, three national championships in 127 years. And Final Four, it's hard to get there. We'll forever be the only team that's went to six Final Fours in a row. That ain't ever going to happen, right? Because it's going to change next year.

It's hard. It's really hard to win. Everybody's got good coaches, everybody got good players. But the consistency that we've been able to have here on and off the field, it's incredibly rare. It's incredibly unique. And we focus so much on what we don't do instead of what we do do. And you learn, you get better and you grow from each and every season. You make changes when you need to make changes, you keep learning. So that has served us well. And hopefully moving forward we can again have a reset and not have a bunch of miserable people out there if we don't go 15 and up, because it's going be a very miserable life if that's what you're waiting on every single year to determine your happiness. Got a bunch of great people that work their tails off and are incredibly committed to excellence every single year. And somewhere along the way, maybe we'll have some of that perfection, but it's a daily deal that you have to stay committed to.