Dabo Swinney: Championships aren't on sale on the bargain aisle


by - Staff Writer -
Clemson has won two of the last three National Championships
Clemson has won two of the last three National Championships

CLEMSON – If you want to win a championship in college football, don’t go shopping down the bargain aisle. You won’t find them there, because championships aren’t on sale according to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.

Swinney knows a thing or two about championships – he won a National Championship as a player at Alabama and has led Clemson to two of past three titles.

Swinney says a cornerstone of Clemson’s success is the fact that the Tigers start over every season and never look to the past for current success.

“It goes back to how we built the program. From day one, for us, we’ve never been defined by success or failure,” Swinney said. “We start over every year. We call it a windshield mentality. It’s always about what’s next. There’s a new mountain to climb. We celebrate and we learn from the good and the bad, but we don’t live with our eyes in the rearview mirror around here. It’s always about what’s next. It’s just a new journey. It’s new people. It’s a new challenge every single year.”

Swinney said adding new players to the equation each season is part of the reason he loves college football.

“To me, that’s what makes college football so exciting. You just never know from year to year what type of football team you’re going to have,” he said. “When I say we start over, we truly start over. Even this summer when we have our five days of staff meetings, we will meet as if we are all just meeting each other for the first time as if no one knows anything about our program and we all just landed in a room and are trying to get to know each other, it’s that detailed.”

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has complained that his team lost to Clemson due to complacency, and Swinney says there is no room for complacency in his program.

“That’s how we protect our program, stay focused on the core values, the culture. To me, that’s it. It’s staying hungry, it’s staying humble,” Swinney said. “It’s understanding you don’t get to carry anything over. You don’t get to start at second base. Everybody is right back in the dugout and back in the batter’s box. That’s our culture. It starts in the offseason. In the spring, somebody has to run out there, but nobody has a job. Everybody has to earn it every single year.

“I have to prove every day that I’m still the guy to be the head coach here. I tell my coaches every day that their job is to prove to me that they’re the best guy to do their job. Trevor, he has to prove that he’s still the guy to be the starting quarterback and so on and so on. That’s just the culture here. It’s not like, ‘okay, we’re going to create that now ten years later.’ It’s been woven into our culture for a long time, and it started when we had some failure. Alright, that doesn’t define us either. What’s next? We’ve always focused on the good, the things that we can control, and then we go to work.”

In other words, championships are won by hard work, and they definitely are not for sale.

“As I tell our players, championships don’t go on sale,” Swinney said. “You can’t go down the bargain aisle for one of these; you have to pay full price to have the type of success that we’ve had year in and year out.”

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