WATCH: Swinney at Fiesta Bowl Media Day

by - Assoc. Editor -

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney spoke to the media on Thursday morning at Media Day to preview the upcoming 2016 Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night.

THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Dabo Swinney.

COACH SWINNEY: Good morning. Good to be with you today. I hope everybody's enjoying the trip out here. It's been a good week so far. It's going fast. It's already our Thursday prep day. So it's been a real quick week, but a good week. I felt Monday we had an excellent practice in Clemson.

Guys were really excited, very focused after being off a couple of days for Christmas. And a long trip out here. Time change and all that stuff. Tuesday practice getting acclimated, practice fields, figuring it all out and all that stuff. It was okay. I thought we were a little sluggish. Yesterday was a great practice. Good to see the energy and the focus the way it needed to be yesterday. I think the guys have enjoyed it, have had a good time.

They had the impersonator in there, Caliendo I think they enjoyed that. They've enjoyed having a little down time to do some things in Arizona that they didn't get to do when we were here last year because it was such a quick trip. And all of us as coaches have enjoyed it, too.

Had a good dinner last night with the Ohio State coaches and that was a lot of fun spending some time with Coach Meyer and Shelley and their staff.

But we're excited. We're excited about the opportunity. The game's going to be here soon and should be a heck of a ballgame.


Q. Coach Meyer was talking about your relationship with him. What do you guys talk about at dinner? Do you keep it away from football?

COACH SWINNEY: All of the above. We talk football. We talk -- we were excited about-- we talked about the Nike trip coming up in February, really looking forward to that.

And so it was good. We talk about a lot of things. I told him I was reading his book and gotta get him to sign it for me.

Shelley's great. She and Kath, they kind of went off and we had a lot of catching up to do. But it was great. A lot of respect for Coach Meyer and the way they do things. Got to meet couple of guys on his staff that I didn't know. Got to congratulate Luke.

I actually met Luke for the first time about -- he had just been the interim coach and we were on vacation in Florida in the summer. I didn't know him. And we just happened to be in the same swimming pool watching our kids run on a log.

And I didn't know him and he didn't know me and somehow or another we got to talking about, you're Luke Fickell? And we started talking. I was able to catch up with him a little bit, congratulate him on his opportunity.

Got to meet Coach Schiano. I had never met him. I got to follow him a long time. So it's good.

Q. You've got two big wide receivers that are here this weekend that did not play here or did not play in the postseason last year, Mike Williams and Deon Cain. Could you talk about having those two guys all year but now obviously at this point in the season can mean for your offense?

COACH SWINNEY: Well, Mike Williams is a monster. I mean, he's a game-changer, every snap. Whether he gets the ball or not. If he lines up on the field, he impacts the game because I promise you the D coordinator is hoping that it doesn't go number 7's way. He's just that type of guy.

He's an unbelievable football player. And he's a better player this year than he would have been last year, and he would have been amazing. But I think his mindset, his mentality, his appreciation for his opportunity, the fact that he was able to sit and learn last year, and I think that fire was burning hard and intense for him coming into the season.

He's had an unbelievable year. He's a very smart player. And he's a problem. I mean, he's a matchup problem. And everybody knows it. And he has a quarterback that can get him the ball.

So that's certainly a plus when you've got a guy like that on the field. And Deon Cain, the same thing. Deon was a freshman last year and obviously didn't get a chance to play in the postseason. He's had a great year for us. I'm incredibly proud of Deon and just his maturity.

We challenged him and he had to make a decision because there wasn't an option. I'm really proud of him because he could have left Clemson. He didn't have to stay. But if he was going to stay, he was going to have to change some things. And he chose to stay and buy in, and here we are a year later. I can't tell you how proud I am.

And it's so much fun to see a young person grow and all of a sudden now they feel good about how they live their life and their habits and so forth. And it's carried over academically, you name it. He's had an incredibly consistent year for us. It's been great for him to have Mike there.

It's been great for Mike to have a guy like Deon there. For us to be able to roll those two guys in and out, it's been a tremendous amount of production. If you just look at the production at that position and the amount of touchdowns, they've been a heck of a combination.

So it's been great. And hopefully it will bode well for us into this playoff.

Q. Are you for or against expanding the playoff field to eight teams, and why?

COACH SWINNEY: I'm against it. I always have been. To be honest with you, it's not the right answer for are a lot of people, but I thought the BCS got it right, to be honest with you.

But I think right now I think we have the best of both worlds. I think that -- you've got four teams. For years and years and years they just picked it and then they had the BCS which I thought got it right. Now you've got four teams.

My big thing is I love college football. I love the fact that -- everybody thinks this is a big game, but I'm telling you, Troy was a big game. South Carolina State was a big game. Whoever. Wake Forest was a big game. NC State was a big game. Georgia Tech was a big game, because if we don't take care of business we're not sitting here.

And to me, if all of a sudden we go to this -- we have what a lot of people want out there and that's called the NFL. And now I mean to play a 15-game season in college football is incredibly difficult when you're managing the school and the academics and so forth. It really is, it's a challenge on these guys.

So I think something would have to change. I think you would have to probably do away with the championship games. You probably have to go to one less game. But I don't think there's anything wrong with ending your season with a victory.

And if we just go to a total playoff, then there's only one team happy. And then the other thing is now the game's don't mean as much. Now all of a sudden -- because for us, we've been in the playoff for the last five, six games, because once you kind of -- if you have a decent start to your season and now you're in the hunt, every week's a playoff game. Every game is a playoff game.

And I mean it matters. So I think that we have the right balance. I think it's great. I know there's a lot of people out there that don't like the bowl games and you've got too many bowl games and all that stuff.

As a player, a guy who played and went to bowl games and have coached for a long time, I think it's awesome for young people to have an opportunity to go and spend time -- I don't care where it is -- to go and spend time together with a team and to have a chance to finish their season with a win, to have that time to develop your team for next year, to have that time for spring practice.

And I think that if it goes bigger, we water it down. And now all of a sudden you know you've got these teams with three losses that get in because maybe their brand is strong. And things like that.

And I think we have it right. I really do. And I think -- I love the bowl games. I love seeing some of these matchups. I love seeing Northwestern/Pitt last night. I love seeing Coach Fitz fired up to get a win in that last game, and that time he had to develop his team. And to see those guys one more time.

And if that all goes away and it becomes just a true playoff, then you have the bowl games go away and now you have, when the guys, when the season ends, they're done.

And so I like the intensity of college football. I like the fact that every game matters. And I'm sure everybody can argue every point I just made. But I've lived it. I've played it. I've coached it. And I think we got it right. But there's always going to be debate. You can go to eight teams. Well, the ninth, tenth team, that's never going to change. But I enjoy the way it is.

Q. What is your philosophy with bulletin-board material? Urban famously put up a bunch of stuff in 2006, even made some up, to try to fire up his players. Do you look for that?

COACH SWINNEY: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think as coaches you're always looking for every ounce of motivation that you can find. I don't recall him making it up. But I think that it's definitely a part of a game. It's part of preparation. I mean sometimes people throw things out there and again if you think it's a good motivational piece, then you use it. But it's definitely a part of it.

Q. Is it a concern for a coach if your own team supplies it, does it help?

COACH SWINNEY: Yeah, absolutely. No question. Are you asking me about my safety in a roundabout way? Not real smart. He better play well.

Q. Question about community service during bowl week.

COACH SWINNEY: I enjoyed it. Every time we go to a bowl game there's always some type of community service as a part. And normally it entails us going somewhere.

But I thought it was great because these kids actually came to us, to our practice, and it was all set up. They did a great job of setting the whole thing up. And our players just took over and did a fantastic job and to see them really engaged with those kids and interact with them, I thought the PlayStation folks had it all set up great.

It was a lot of fun. It was one of the best things we've done to be able to -- because it was very interactive. And they got to know these kids on a personal basis. And the smiles on their faces. That's what it was all about. It was really about making it a great day for those special needs kids. And I've really enjoyed it.

Q. You've talked about Deshaun as a player, as a person. Just talk about him as the total package?

COACH SWINNEY: He is the total package. I mean, I can't say it enough. That's what makes him so special. It's his intangibles. It's who he is -- I mean, he's a great human being that just happens to be a good football player. That's the best way I can describe him.

He is just wired the right way. And he's so kind and just is always the same. He has a great respect for the game, the preparation, great respect for his teammates, his coaches. I have never ever seen him disrespectful to anyone, ever.

I mean, he just has a sweet, kind spirit to him that is -- and a maturity that is very uncommon in a young person. And he's been that way since he got to Clemson. It's just amazing.

And he's just blossomed as he grew into his leadership role and also the role that he has within the program. So he's special.

Q. You guys talk about "all in" a lot. What are your thoughts about players like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey sitting out of their respective bowl games?

COACH SWINNEY: As I said back in Clemson, it's hard for me to judge people when I don't know their circumstances. I mean to each his own in that regard. I don't really know. Sometimes guys are hurt. Sometimes guys are having to really go through things to get themselves ready to play.

And I don't really know. But I think if guys aren't committed and they're not all in, I'd rather know in the beginning than for guys to show up and go through the motions, because you work too hard.

But I think that if guys were going to play -- if somebody was getting ready to play in a playoff and they would play but they're not going to play in the Gator Bowl, I've got a problem with that.

I mean, why play the senior year then just sit the year out? Because any game is big and every game can be hurt. And I've just never lived my life that way, ever. I don't think that way. This is a game of team and everybody's better because of the team. And so I think that you always finish what you start. That's always just my mentality. But again everybody has an opinion. And I respect everyone's opinion and their right to do what they want to do.

But for me, and I have no idea. Maybe that's something that will come about in college football. If it does, you do it when you do it. But I just need 11. I need 11 and we're going to go play. And we're going to -- those 11 will be excited to play. We've got one that doesn't want to play, I promise you the guy behind him will want to. So I embrace that.

Comment on this story
Send Feedback to Tony Crumpton: Email | Comment
Clemson in top schools for elite defender
Clemson in top schools for elite defender
LOOK: Clemson Historic photo #102 'Tiger Band in 1940s'
LOOK: Clemson Historic photo #102 'Tiger Band in 1940s'
LOOK: Clemson Historic photo #101 'Football reunions'
LOOK: Clemson Historic photo #101 'Football reunions'
Post your comments!
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Daily Digest