CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney was asked Tuesday morning if he had ever been part of a football game at Texas A&M, given that his No. 2 Clemson squad is headed there this week to play in front of 103,000 screaming, rowdy fans.
The head coach grinned, now making light of what was actually a painful memory 14 years ago.
Then, as Swinney does best, he went into story mode Tuesday morning during his weekly press conference.
It was 2004. He was in just his second year as Clemson's wide receivers coach under Tommy Bowden. And long story short, the trip to Kyle Field was an unforgettable disaster of colossal proportions.
Allow Swinney to take it away from here:
"We got destroyed out there. I remember it all too well," he said.
"We flew out there and I mean, it seemed like we stayed (in a hotel) like, an hour and a half away. I don't even know where we were, but we were a long way away and I'll never forget it: back in those days, everybody just kind of wore their warmups (on the bus). That's just the way things were.
"We got on the buses and had no air conditioning. And I remember vividly getting off the bus and everybody had their pants pulled up, had their shirts (rolled up) and we looked like — man, we looked like North Dallas 40 or something getting off the bus. We were a bad looking bunch and everybody was sweating.
"In my mind I remember going, 'This is fixing to be a long day.' And it was. They absolutely kicked our tails all over the field that night."
That they did.
Texas A&M beat Clemson, 27-6, that night, and the Tigers made the 950-mile trek back to South Carolina exhausted and frustrated.
It was the only time Swinney had ever been to the state of Texas for a game — as a player or coach. He hopes his second visit to the Lone Star State goes much differently.
This weekend, 14 years later, Swinney will head back to Texas A&M, but this time as the head coach of No. 2 Clemson. This time he plans for the bus to have air conditioning and this time the team is only staying three miles away from the stadium.
"I wasn't on that trip," said co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott. "But I've heard about that."
And this time, Clemson intends to win.
Swinney certainly has the pieces to do so.
While Texas A&M has the advantage from a crowd perspective in that this is a home game and perhaps the most important matchup of Jimbo Fisher's A&M inaugural season, Clemson clearly has more talent. The Tigers, an 11-point favorite, are ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll this week; Texas A&M is unranked.
And the Aggies are going to have to prepare for two opposing quarterbacks this week as both Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence are guaranteed to play for the Tigers.
A Clemson victory would do two things for the Tigers: prove they have no intentions of backing down from a fourth straight College Football Playoff berth, and give Swinney more pleasant memories of Texas.
"It's an incredible game day environment," Swinney said. "We'll be able to have a little better plan."
It certainly won't be any worse.
Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jordan Williams is still day-to-day with a minor injury, Swinney confirmed. He should know more about Williams' status for the Texas A&M game later in the week.
Clemson had 10 plays the Tigers' coaching staff deemed "explosive" against Furman — six passing plays and four rushing plays. Scott explained an "explosive play" by Clemson's standards would be any play that was more than 16 yards passing or 12 yards rushing. Given how talented Texas A&M's secondary is, the Tigers are hoping for much of the same Saturday.