Kirk Herbstreit says Swinney's comments provide motivation for the Tigers
|Tuesday, December 3, 2019, 4:28 PM- -|
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is one of the best in the country at motivating his team to play up to their standard week-in and week-out, and ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit thinks Swinney’s latest diatribes are his way of providing the chip that fuels his team.
Swinney has made no bones about the perceived lack of respect his team has received this season despite being 12-0 and having only one close game. Herbstreit said not only is Swinney trying to send a message to the media but also to his players as the Championship Phase of the season continues.
"I think he's just continuing to look for an edge," Herbstreit said of Swinney during a podcast earlier this week. "His team continues to dominate, just finding everything and anything he can to try to push buttons on his team. Anything that I think he says, the media, he's saying, defending his program and taking something and trying to make sure his players know, 'People don't respect you. They don't care what you've done. They don't care. You're not good in their minds. You're not good enough. You're not Alabama. You're not Ohio State. You're not LSU. You're not those teams.' Like, he's done anything he can.”
The negative light that is on Clemson all began when the Tigers narrowly escaped Chapel Hill with a 21-20 win over North Carolina in September, but even as Clemson has beaten teams by 30-plus points since the questions of strength of schedule and how good they actually are have remained.
"Now, the world on the outside looks at that and thinks, 'What? What's he talking about?' But go back to when Clemson (almost) lost,” Herbstreit said. “There was a lot of dialogue around, 'Boy, they could've lost to North Carolina. Man, they're not as good as they were last year. Man, (sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence is) throwing all these picks. Trevor's not as good as he was last year.' There was a lot of talk about that. Now, that was five, six weeks ago when that talk was out there. Since then, I think we've seen everything settle down. Clemson, for the last seven, eight weeks, they've been blowing people out.
“It's an embarrassment, what they're doing to people. And I think even then, 'That's the ACC. They're terrible.' So that's, I think, he hears some of that and he grew up an underdog. It's his mindset. They could win five straight national championships and Dabo's going to find a way to be an underdog. So I don't think you can reason with it. I don't think you can sit there and logically breakdown, 'OK, well, this makes sense.' I think he's just looking to have a chip on his shoulder, try to create a chip on his team's shoulder and, by the way, it's working. His team is showing up in a bad mood and just dominating people. You know how many points they've given up?”
Make no mistake, Clemson’s players are hearing their head coach defend their program, and Herbstreit thinks college football will see the best of Clemson in the ACC Championship and the College Football Playoff.
"And who knows — I feel like we're going to find out how good Clemson is when they play in the Playoff. Right now, we think they're great and look great,” he said. “Look since the North Carolina game — they beat Florida State 45-14. They beat Louisville 45-10. Boston College 59-7. NC State 55-10. Wake, 'Here comes Wake, they're ready this year,' 52-3. South Carolina 38-3. And all of these scores could be a lot worse — that's the scary thing. I mean, they could probably be in the 80s and these sevens and 14s that I'm reading could probably be three or six. They scored on the backups.
“So this team is as dominant as Ohio State. They're as dominant as anybody out there. It's just, I think, they haven't played anybody. So a lot of people look and they've played A&M early, beat them 24-10. Who else have they played that's a team that you would say — Louisville, maybe — that's a good team? Virginia this week will be a decent team that they'll play in the ACC championship (Saturday). They're 9-3 and had a great year with (Cavaliers head coach) Bronco Mendenhall, beating Virginia Tech (39-30, Saturday) to advance. But I think, when I hear him go off like that, he's sending a message. He's trying to keep that edge, trying to let this team play with a chip on that shoulder and I think it's working."