CLEMSON -- Dabo Swinney appealed to Clemson Nation during his Tuesday press conference, asking for patience.
In a season falling short of expectations, with message boards and radio talks shows filled with vitriol, the Clemson coach used his bully pulpit to defend the direction of the program. He explained that despite the results of this fall, he likes the progress he sees on the practice field and behind the scenes.
"I don't need a lot of patience; I need a little, just a little," Swinney said. "If we keep doing the things we are doing: teaching, coaching and recruiting, we
aren't going to just win, we are going to win big. I'm more confident than ever we are moving in the right direction.
"Everybody needs to back off the cliff ... and let me do my job. Be supportive and not destructive and we'll be all right."
Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips has also preached patience with Swinney, noting how Frank Beamer had a 24-40-2 record in his first six years at Virginia Tech, before building the Hokies into a consistent power.
At Clemson, Danny Ford was 6-6 in ACC play in his first two years at Clemson, and some believe he barely survived the 1980 season.
On the basketball side, Mike Krzyzewksi had a 13-29 record in ACC play in his first three seasons at Duke.
A day earlier, Clemson right tackle Landon Walker defended Swinney and the behind-the-scenes progress the fan base does not see. Walker notes how Clemson's five losses have come by a combined 26 points. He said players are held more accountable under Swinney than they were under Tommy Bowden.
But some in the Clemson community are becoming impatient with the process.
Some point toward Clemson's 5-5 record on the season and Clemson's 14-13 record against power-conference teams under Swinney.
Clemson's Dwayne Allen compared the Tigers to the Dallas Cowboys, underachieving despite a high level of talent.
"Progress is good, but wins are better," Allen said.
Quarterback Kyle Parker offered a rebuttal to the comparison.
"The Cowboys are having a much worse season than we are," Parker said.
In defense of the culture he has created, Swinney noted how the Tigers have not given up on the season despite numerous heartbreaks and bad breaks, including eight drives of nine plays or more that netted zero points the last three games.
"These guys are amazing," Swinney said of his players. "They get knocked down seven times and get back up eight. They have that mentality. They've been amazing to watch on how they continue to be a team. "That was as hurt a locker room as I've seen the other night when you get beat by a 55-yarder at the buzzer. That was a tough pill to swallow. … To see them come in at 6:30 in the morning (Monday) and then back in at 4 p.m. for practice. I'm proud of them for the choices they make and their attitudes."
Check out the Clemson blog at postandcourier.com/blogs/tiger_tracks and follow Travis Sawchik on Twitter (@travis_sawchik).