CLEMSON — A year after N.C. State coach Dave Doeren infamously questioned the purpose of a mysterious laptop on Clemson's sideline in a 2017 Raleigh showdown between the two football teams, Dabo Swinney decided to have a little bit of fun with one of college football's pettiest narratives this time around.
During Clemson's 41-7 rout of N.C. State on Saturday, if you looked closely on Clemson's sideline you might have noticed a play-call sign with a picture of a smiling laptop on it in the fourth quarter.
That was by design, a grinning Swinney admitted at his postgame news conference. It was all in good fun and meant to poke fun at the storyline from a season ago.
"That was the ultimate troll, wasn't it? Isn't that what y'all call that? That was a troll," he said with a laugh. "I was hoping y'all might notice that.
"The coaches, I think they wanted to have a little fun with that and I said, 'well, hey, if you earn it, put it up there.' I don't think you saw it until the fourth quarter, but that was a troll."
Indeed, Clemson waited to pull out the gesture until it was clear the Tigers had the game in hand, but to Swinney's delight, it certainly did not go unnoticed. By the end of the night, it was all over social media.
The story behind 'laptop-gate' dates back to last November, when immediately after Clemson beat the Wolfpack by 7 points in a highly emotional game, Doeren was told Clemson had a laptop on its sideline during the game.
Doeren was under the impression that laptops or similar technology on the sidelines during games are forbidden under NCAA rules — and technically they are.
NCAA rules state that the in-game use of electronic devices for coaching purposes is permitted in the press box and in the locker room, but not on the sidelines, in team areas or the playing field. The problem with Doeren's accusation was that it was not the Clemson football team that had the laptop, but a member of Clemson's communications/social media team uploading photos, videos and creative content.
Swinney took Doeren's comments as a swipe at his integrity. Tthe storyline resurfaced ahead of Saturday's game.
Jeff Scott, Clemson's co-offensive coordinator, wasn't as outspoken as Swinney when asked about the laptop, but rather blushed and grinned.
"I didn't see it," he joked.
But K'Von Wallace, a Clemson safety who had a 46-yard return on an interception, said it was part of the plan all week long.
"We were just trolling, just trolling," he said.
As for who was the mastermind behind it?
"Everybody. Everybody was just asking."