CLEMSON – Maybe this was Dabo Swinney’s most epic Tuesday Q&A. Or maybe it was before the South Carolina game last year. Or the SC game the year before that, or the Florida State game in 2013, or one of the Georgia press conferences ...
Point is, to say Swinney was in rare form Tuesday isn’t only misleading, it’s inaccurate. That cat is who he is, every day.
However, Swinney dropped a cavalcade of zingers Tuesday morning leading into the Notre Dame game. There’s one here in the main story in Wednesday’s Post and Courier, and another here in On the Beat, and a rant about Notre Dame and the ACC that’ll be covered tomorrow when we can get Brian Kelly’s response.
Here are seven witticisms, in chronological order:
1) The first question Tuesday was about Clemson dropping a couple spots in the polls despite a 3-0 record.
“Nobody’s going to give us anything,” said Swinney, which was followed by an “Amen” murmured by one of the many, um, elderly boosters seated in the back of the team room where Swinney holds his weekly “press” conference.
“I have to do a poll every week and it’s the biggest waste of my time. I gotta do it, I participate, but there shouldn’t be a poll until October. Those same people that don’t believe in us, those are the same people that believed in Auburn, and believed in Arizona State and Oregon. What does it mean? It just means that none of that stuff matters. Those same people now believe in Utah.
“We’re probably about where we should be, I guess. We haven’t really done anything. We’ve won three games. There’s so much football to be played between now and when all these questions should even matter. Who cares what people think about us right now? Let’s just go play the game. When it all shakes out and we get into November, the picture will be much more clear on who the really good teams are.”
Clemson’s players, to be fair, have played the disrespect card the past two days. Did that bleed down from a message delivered by Swinney?
“Us against the world? No, no, no,” Swinney responded. “We’re just trying to play them 11 dudes that are gonna run out there on the field.”
2) It’s a highly-anticipated game, which means players and coaches have all kinds of fans coming out of the woodwork looking for some help getting through the gates at Memorial Stadium.
“I’ve got people calling me that I haven’t talked to in 20 years,” Swinney said. “‘Hey, man, got some tickets? I really want to come up this weekend. Just need five.’”
3) Swinney also eased concerns Clemson’s next visitor is taking over some of the area’s most sacred establishments.
“Thursday night we went to The Smokin’ Pig and I got a dissertation from the manager about how supposedly Notre Dame has rented The Smokin’ Pig,” Swinney said. “He was telling me, that ain’t happening. They ain’t renting The Smokin Pig. So I said, well, that’s great. So I had my pork and my brisket, and went on about my business.”
4) People born before 1980 probably have a much deeper appreciation for Notre Dame’s place in college football lore than those born after 1990, which includes every active player in college football.
“They don’t know who Muhammad Ali is. I’m serious, they don’t have a clue,” Swinney said. “If you live in this country, because of their brand and the media and all that, everybody hears of Notre Dame. But as far as maybe the history, they probably don’t know a whole lot of it.
“Probably not many of them know that Joe Montana played at Notre Dame. Very few know Dwight Clark played at Clemson. So that’s just the world we live in with the young people today.”
5) College GameDay made two stops on Bowman Field two years ago, and while Swinney said the recruiting ripples don’t matter without wins in those games, that’s probably not totally accurate.
“It’s fun for our brand, for people to recognize the Paw. We’ve got people all over the country now that know Clemson because of the exposure that we’ve had over the last several years,” Swinney said. “I mean, we had a six-minute infomercial narrated by Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit on the buses, and the Rock, and the Hill.
“They should still be paying us for that advertisement that they got from that night. I mean, y’all are in TV. What’s a 30-second commercial in the Super Bowl cost? I mean, six minutes. I bet our enrollment has gone up. We probably have more applicants, so all of those things come with your exposure for your brand.”
6) Then it got weird. After joking that the Pope would even have trouble finding a ticket to Saturday’s game, Swinney somehow went . . . here.
“The one church in New York that he went to, what’s that church? St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we actually had a chance last December to go and tour that, and it was all under scaffolding,” Swinney said.
“By the way, if you ever want to go into business in New York, go in the scaffolding business, OK, because you’ll always have a job. I’m not a big New York guy. I mean, two days and I’ve got to get back and see some trees and sit on the back porch. But every year I go to New York, and there’s scaffolding everywhere. They just move it across the street.
“But this cathedral was amazing. So it was kind of neat to see the Pope on TV and that church having been restored, and what a great moment that was for our country and for the Pope. It seemed like he had a great experience.”
Swinney punctuated the monologue with, “I do think he needs to upgrade the Popemobile though. Need a little more swag. We need an upgrade there.”
7) Swinney wasn’t quite done. He was asked if the team would watch Rudy on Friday night at the team hotel in Anderson.
“I don’t know. I’m going to go see my son play (high school football) Friday night just like I do every Friday night,” Swinney said. “We haven’t picked the movie yet, so that’s usually what we do on Tuesday nights. I usually give the selection to the seniors and they pick the movie. I have veto power once they pick it just to make sure it’s not something insane.”
And then, just for good measure, a plug for a Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway romcom now in theatres.
“My wife and I saw the Intern. That was a great movie,” Swinney said. “Good date movie, if any of you are looking for a date night.”