Clemson’s Dabo Swinney smartly labels ACC football poll worthless
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Admit it, you expected often overly zealous Dabo Swinney to climb to the top of the Grandover Resort, beat his chest, claim reign over the ACC Football Kickoff event below and demand the finest meats and cheeses.
To trumpet Clemson as the official preseason media poll choice to win the 2013 ACC championship.
For the first time since 2008.
By a mammoth margin — 95 votes for Clemson, 15 for Florida State, no other team with more than three.
But, no, Dabo did what good coaches should (but don’t always) do when their unproven programs get sweet summer accolades. He said he didn’t care.
He found the voting results as valuable as a road map in a blizzard.
“It’s so not even worth having a conversation about,” Swinney said Monday, almost yawning.
Never mind that when last seen on a football field, this man picked up and hugged ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards while celebrating Clemson’s Chick-fil-A Bowl upset of LSU.
Back to the past for a glimpse at the future: Clemson’s 2011 ACC title was its first since 1991. Fun times in Charlotte, yes, but nothing to strike fear in the hearts of, say, Florida State players.
Zinger from FSU
Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner of the defending ACC champion Seminoles was asked Sunday about all the lofty preseason expectations for Clemson.
“Good luck with that, Clemson,” Joyner said. “That’s a lot of pressure.”
Swinney knows. Clemson can run the ACC table and still not get credit for a good season without beating South Carolina.
Alas, the reasons why people forget Clemson has 21 wins over the last two seasons.
“If we’re going to get where we need to be,” Swinney said, “we have to consistently win and put good seasons together. Not just one good season.”
Until then, Florida State remains the ACC champion with the 2013 conference title likely to be decided not on Dec. 7 in Charlotte, but Oct. 19 when Florida State plays at Death Valley.
“This conference needs Clemson and Florida State to be strong,” Swinney said.
Too bad they’re in the same division and cannot meet in the ACC championship game. It’s become a great rivalry, with back-and-forth results for six years in a row.
“Maybe one of us can put a dominant year together and play for the national championship,” Swinney said.
What Boyd must avoid
Swinney drew the largest ACC Football Kickoff audience among the 14 head coaches. People asked about the new four-team playoff coming in 2014, Jadeveon Clowney, cost-of-attendance scholarship proposals and scheduling.
Swinney kept coming back to the same theme.
“At the end of the day, all I try to do is win and take care of Clemson,” he said.
You have to like that Swinney went beyond the usual focus clichés, volunteering an individual example.
“Tajh Boyd isn’t the (ACC) preseason player of the year for what he’s done this year, it’s for what he did last year,” Swinney said of his star quarterback.
Which won’t be enough for this year, Swinney insists.
“He fumbled three times (during the 2012 season),” Swinney said. “Led our team in fumbles. There’s a lot of improvement to be made.”
More necessary, now that Clemson takes to each week carrying a new target: Overwhelming ACC Title Favorite.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.