"Big controversy" ends well for Tigers

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson nation finally has the straight answer on what the “fight” between Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Billy Napier was about.

At a practice last Wednesday, several band members came away and mentioned a fracas between Napier and Swinney, something that both coaches downplayed during ensuing days, chalking it up to “just football.”

On Saturday, however, Swinney came clean on the reason for the spat.

With Clemson facing a third-and-goal at the Wake Forest three-yard line during the second quarter, Parker rolled left on an option play, and instead of pitching to C.J. Spiller, who was trailing on the play, Parker kept the ball, went airborne at the two-yard line and scored on the play.

As Parker exited the field after the play, Swinney was seen to grab his quarterback’s jersey, and the two shared a laugh. Parker was asked afterward about what Swinney had told him, and Parker said, “I can’t tell you. It’s an inside joke.”

Swinney, however, let the media in on the joke in his postgame press conference.

“We had this big controversy last week because we had this little incident called football practice on our practice field,” Swinney said. “You know, it’s amazing, because it all stemmed from that play in practice. We ran that play in practice, and that doggone quarterback pitched the ball on air instead of running it like he should have run it.

“So, he got his butt chewed out. Pretty bad. Had some nice words for Kyle. And his quarterback coach [Napier] took up for his player, wanted to take up for him. So his quarterback coach got chewed out pretty good, too. Next thing you know, we are fighting and this and that.”
Parker indeed kept the football on Saturday, going airborne and flying into the end zone, and Parker said afterward he was just glad he made it to pay dirt.

“Basically, all I am doing on that play is reading the end,” Parker said. “If he comes to me, I am going to pitch it out to C.J., but he played it a little wide and I just turned it up. I just jumped. I was lucky to make it in I guess.”

Swinney said he called his quarterback “soft” and liked the way Parker responded.

“You know what, I love it,” Swinney said. “I kind of, in so many words, said he was soft and that he should have stuck that in there [at practice]. So when he came off the field [after the touchdown], he said ‘How you like that coach?’ He didn’t exactly say it as nice as that, but that is the version I am going to give you. And I am proud of that.

“But he got the point, and he didn’t pitch the ball on air today. He kept it like he was supposed to and got that touchdown, so I loved it. I loved his response, too.”

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