Live from Miami
Post and Courier beat writer Aaron Brenner has arrived in south Florida with all your news and notes on Clemson, Ohio State and the Orange Bowl. Follow him on Twitter for all the latest updates.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Dabo Swinney could walk a few paces to his left and inquire about tickets to a swanky New Year's Eve concert.
Or Clemson's coach could change from his three-piece suit to a swimsuit and take a dip in the lavish pools and hot tubs sparkling inside the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Resort.
Lounges and DJs, bikinis and night clubs.
The temptations of south Florida are everywhere. It's Swinney's tall task to keep everybody's eye on the prize who made the trip for Clemson football - players, staff and families alike.
"We have a good group of young men, and they're in society every day. So you can't shield them," Swinney said in the middle of a bustling hotel lobby, as a few curious guests occasionally stopped to gawk and take cellphone pictures.
"We have rules in place, and curfews and all that. You hope everybody will do what's right and abide by the rules. But our guys know if they don't, there's consequences."
The Orange Bowl rolled out the welcome mat Sunday afternoon at Miami International Airport for the team's charter plane, and the three busses adorned with Clemson football arrived at the hotel shortly after 4 p.m.
The Fontainebleau, a 59-year-old artifact brimming with international flair and more than 1,500 rooms across its four towers, rests on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Its world-renowned pool area has been showcased on TV (The Sopranos) and in the movies (Scarface, Goldfinger and The Bodyguard.)
"It's definitely not the normal place to stay at any bowl, to be honest with you," Swinney said. "This place is probably the most unique hotel we'll stay at, of all our bowl experiences. But it's a lot of fun, and our guys have earned it."
The Tigers stayed at both the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure in Weston, Fla. and the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Fla., preceding their 2012 Orange Bowl trip.
Ohio State arrived Sunday, and is staying in Hollywood.
Overcast skies and wind swaying the palm trees from side to side are a slight deterrent to the usual ambiance of Florida this time of year, but temperatures are still rising into the 70s - about 25-30 degrees warmer than Clemson the morning the team flew south.
"It felt really good stepping off the plane. (The heat) hit us immediately," kicker Chandler Catanzaro said. "It's an honor to be down here. We're excited to get on the field and start practicing."
The team's stay is going to be briefer than two years ago. The hotel was unable to accommodate the Tigers before Sunday.
"We want to have fun, but I told them getting on the plane today, let's make sure you have the type of focus you need to give yourself a chance to be successful," Swinney said. "Managing the distractions and environment is part of it, but it's the same for both teams."
Clemson has a team and family beach outing Monday, a team dinner at Texas de Brazil in Miami Beach on Tuesday night (New Year's Eve) and a hospital visit scheduled Wednesday.
"We've got to do a great job as a staff keeping them dialed in," Swinney said, "but also having a good balance of letting them have some fun along the way."
There will be some free time for the players as well.
"We're definitely going to have a lot of fun and enjoy the hotel, facilities and different events they put on for us," linebacker Spencer Shuey said. "But the maturity level on our team has shown we know it's a business trip and we're going to treat it as such."
A little while after the team headed upstairs to check into their rooms, the Bleau Bar blared with The Power Station's "Some Like It Hot," urging vacationers to "feel the heat, ready or not."
Five days after landing in Miami, Clemson gets its chance to wipe away the stain of its last Orange Bowl experience, ready or not.
"It's a reward to be here, for the season we put together. But there are rules and regulations you've got to follow," Catanzaro said. "You want to make sure our main focus is to win the game."
Ohio State short-handed
The Buckeyes might be down their sack leader Friday.
Sophomore Noah Spence, designated OSU's "viper" on defense, is not with the team in Miami.
"Noah didn't fly down with us," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "He's working through some personal issues at home."
Meyer left the door open for Spence, who has eight sacks, to return to the team prior to gametime.
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