CLEMSON – Asked generally, but not specifically, about his approach when bickering within the family goes public, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney didn’t have much personal experience to draw upon.
But he does try to avoid creating headlines via confrontation – the way Clemson’s in-state rival, South Carolina, let frustration show after its 41-30 loss to Georgia Saturday.
Among the fracas in the visiting Gamecocks’ postgame interviews was head coach Steve Spurrier hinting he’d be getting more involved with South Carolina’s defensive gameplan, saying “We’re going to change our defense … I’ll give coach (Lorenzo) Ward some suggestions.”
The question on Monday’s teleconference did not specify the Gamecocks’ woes, and Swinney seemed unaware of the situation two days after his own third-ranked Tigers dismissed South Carolina State 52-13.
“I try not to get involved in that type of stuff – publicly, anyway. I’m not into calling out coaches,” Swinney said. “My job is to be the head coach, because ultimately I am responsible. Anything that’s good is a credit to our coaches, and anything’s that bad is my fault. That’s what I believe, because it’s my job to fix things.”
South Carolina’s star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney also vented his frustration with the gameplan, as North Carolina and Georgia have purposely schemed away from the presumptive 2014 NFL Draft first overall pick.
Since Clemson is 2-0, everything’s hunky-dory in the Upstate. That’s the nature of college football.
“This is a tough business; there’s emotion, guys are competitive and everybody wants to win. All of a sudden when you don’t win, some of those things might rear their head,” Swinney said. “You just deal with it head-on; you don’t act like it’s not there.”
Swinney emphasized “communication, trust and respect” when teaching his players not to let their emotions flood out in front of reporters, which gets the fans and media talking.
“Players have to feel like they’ve got some ownership,” Swinney said. “We talk to our guys all the time, we like to get their input, but from time to time you’ll have guys that might say something you don’t want them to say. You sit down with those guys and educate them. Everybody has guys that get mad or get their feelings hurt.”