CLEMSON -- Dabo Swinney has nearly a million reasons to hope his Tigers remain atop the Atlantic Division.
With an appearance in the ACC title game, Swinney's contract calls from his guaranteed compensation to increase from $800,000 to the "median" of all ACC head coaches. The ACC average head coach's salary is $1.7 million according to contract figures analyzed by the Post and Courier.
An ACC title would further increase Swinney's guaranteed compensation to $2 million, the average of the top seven compensated coaches in the conference.
According to the contract, the increases take effect "for the contract year in which the team participated in the ACC Championship Game."
Upon shedding his interim tag, Swinney signed a five-year, incentive-laden contract in December that made him the conference's lowest paid coach. In addition to the base compensation raises, there are bonuses for win totals, academic performances and bowl appearances.
With an ACC title, Swinney would join four other ACC coaches making more than $2 million per year: Florida State's Bobby Bowden ($2.5 million), Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson ($2.3 million), Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer ($2.1 million) and North Carolina's Butch Davis ($2 million).
Dye rises again
After briefly quitting the team earlier this season upset over his lacking of playing time, Clemson receiver Xavier Dye is being praised by Swinney as any example of not giving up. After the junior worked with the No. 1s through the preseason, Dye did not play against Georgia Tech and was absent from two practices as he considered transferring to schools on the quarters system like Ohio State and Cincinnati.
"It was just a rough week," Dye said.
After meeting with his former coaches at Byrnes High, and talking with his spiritual advisor Brad Hughes -- provided by athletic department -- Kelly decided to return to the Tigers.
And he's glad he did.
He has logged more than 60 snaps against Clemson's last to FBS opponents and Dye ran away from defenders on a 43-yard touchdown against Florida State, showing all he assets: he is a large target (6-5) with sure hands and surprising speed.
Dye admitted Monday he became complacent after being named a starter. Upon returning to the team, Dye apologized to his teammates for being "selfish" and spent the week of the Boston College game at the bottom of the depth chart. "It was kind of hard to just walk out and start over," Dye said. "But it would be tough to go somewhere else not knowing anybody.
"They had me up as the number No. 1 guy, so they actually had to believe I could be the guy."
Dye reemerged by going two weeks without dropping a ball in practice.
"I told him I don't know what mountain he climbed and hung out there for about three days, but I'm going to send a few of my other guys, too," receivers coach Jeff Scott said. "He's been different in a lot of ways since coming back."
Many thought would allow Dye to be competent replacement for Aaron Kelly. Among those glad he's back is Kelly, who sent Dye a text after the game: "Way to ball … watching from the (press) box."
The Tigers own the nation's sixth-best pass defense despite facing a litany of top-rated QBs this season. They face another one Saturday in N.C. State's Russell Wilson.
The answer to part of the success might be this: the Tigers possess perhaps the best scout team quarterback in the country in freshman Tajh Boyd.
"Tajh is just as good as any of the quarterbacks we are going to face," Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel said. "That dude is good. When he looks [at opposing tendencies] and throws routes they usually throw, not too many quarterbacks have a stronger arm than Tajh.