Dabo Swinney: "If we are going to dream, let’s be extravagant about it"
|Saturday, January 13, 2018, 8:01 AM- -|
The loss to Alabama is still fresh. If it was a wound, it would still be sore to the touch. But you can bet that head coach Dabo Swinney is moving past the loss and is already looking ahead to next season.
He’s also ready to see how his team responds to a bad night in New Orleans.
Clemson’s loss to the Crimson Tide resonated because of the way it was accomplished – Alabama came out as the more physical and more aggressive team. The Tigers took Alabama’s best punch and never punched back.
Since the loss, I’ve been thinking about an interview I did with Swinney back in November, after the Tigers clinched the ACC Atlantic Division for a third consecutive season. I asked him if he could have foreseen all of this on that dark night in Miami after the blowout loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. For whatever reason, I didn’t run the interview then (there was not a lot of time), but I think this is a good time to show how Swinney thinks.
His answer was simple – he knew better times were ahead.
“It was just one game,” Swinney told me. “If you let one game define you or one bad moment define you or destroy you … it is really how you respond to things in life. Bad things happen. Sometimes things just don’t go the way you plan them. I’m sure not everything has gone according to your plan in life … like everything.
“It is how you respond. You get better. You grow. We had a lot to learn. We had a culture and a program where we were in the infancy stages of trying to get better.”
Swinney then showed why he is not only a great coach but would be a great CEO.
“Every great anything in life, whether it is a company, a football program or an individual, they all have one thing in common and that is resilience and perseverance,” Swinney said. “I can promise you, they have all failed. They have all failed big time. But it is the resilience, it’s the perseverance, it’s the will to keep moving forward, it’s the willingness to learn and develop and let those things develop you. I never wavered ever. Ever! We just went back to work. What’s next? How do we get better?
“That’s what was so great about the 2012 team. We won 11 games. We took the next step. We beat LSU. That experience helped us. It is not crazy to say. That is the reality. I do not think we are here today without that moment, to be honest with you. It is all a part of your journey and that was just a part of our journey.”
Swinney said when he dreams, he dreams big.
“That is how I think. That is how I dream. If we are going to dream, let’s be extravagant about it,” he said. “You don’t low ball it. You never know, we might just do it. But if we don’t, we will pick ourselves back up, go back to work and try to get better, and go do it again. That is how I go about everything. I always have. I have never been any different. I have had a lot of failure. I have had a lot of criticism and a lot of … those things have never changed how I think.
“But you control how you think. You control your attitude. You control your mindset. You control your drive, your courage, your heart, you control those things. Don’t let other people or other things take that away from you. If you can maintain that, then sooner or later, you will breakthrough in whatever it is you are doing.”
He then said that the Orange Bowl is a prime example of how you – as a person or a coach or a team – can’t let one setback define who and what you are.
“(The 2012 Orange Bowl) has been a long time. It has been seven years ago and we have won a lot of ball games, but it is also a good reminder, and you listen to all of those talk shows and you look at all the internet reports and read all the clippings, you know it is just a reminder that you can’t let those things paralyze you. You have to be able to stay focused. Put your blinders on, and go about your business,” Swinney said. “We have had unbelievable success. There is really only one other team that’s been consistent and that is Alabama. We have won a bunch of games the last seven years, and Alabama has won a few more. So now it is a different deal. Even when you have had great success the criticism is still going to be there. Just like when you don’t have a lot of success, it is just the way it is.
“You give somebody a pot of gold and they are going to ask, ‘Where is my silver?’ If you give them a pot of silver, then it’s ‘where is the gold?’ That is just life. That is just how it is. You just embrace that. You don’t worry about those things. You just stay focused and you have a set of core values that you believe in and you let that be your compass in everything that you do. And if you are not successful, you can look in the mirror and know you did the very best you can and at the end of the day that is what it comes back to – the man in the mirror and how you think.”