Swinney helps his players win on and off the field
|Thursday, November 12, 2009 9:36 AM- -|
CLEMSON -- Clemson wide receiver Xavier Dye entered the season expecting to play a major role in the Tiger offense by becoming the second option behind senior wide out Jacoby Ford in the passing attack.
Dye said he hoped to catch 70 passes.
But his performance early in the season disappointed coaches and he found himself on the bench and frustrated with his lack of playing time.
In September, Dye told coach Dabo Swinney he was quitting the team and transferring. Swinney met with Dye and the junior receiver decided to remain at Clemson.
Now, as the Tigers enter the homestretch of the season needing wins against N.C. State and Virginia to guarantee a trip to the ACC Championship game in Tampa, Fla., Dye seems firmly entrenched as the number two wide receiver.
The Byrnes High product had a career night against Florida State Saturday, hauling in three catches for 68 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown pass.
Swinney said it’s gratifying to see Dye come up with some big plays in a big game after almost leaving the team.
“I’m real proud of him,” Swinney said in his Tuesday press conference. “He’s practicing hard and it’s showing up in the game. “He’s a great example of why you don’t quit because you never know what’s over that hill if you turn back.”
In some ways, Dye may epitomize the 2009-2010 Clemson Tiger football team by showing resilience when faced with adversity.
This team has been able to handle disappointments and setbacks this season, Swinney said.
“Just keep on keeping on,” he said. “I don’t think there is any question. This is a different team. This is a special group.”
To be a consistent winner, Swinney said, you have to have an unshakeable confidence in yourself, in your teammates and in your coaches.
Dye has regained his confidence by going back to work and removing any doubts in his mind that he can have a major impact for the Tigers’ season, Swinney said.
“We all have setbacks, we all have disappointments and we always will,” he said. “What’s the old saying, misfortune is inevitable. Misery is optional. You don’t quit. It’s a great lesson for Xavier Dye. He quit. But I give him credit because he realized he was making a mistake. Xavier Dye was the starter and he earned that. But then all the sudden things don’t go the right way … and he’s transferring. I told him you need to go back to work and do what you did to earn the job and realize that it’s just hard work. It is confidence and putting your eyes on the right things and he did.
Swinney said it’s his job to coach his players to be the best players they can be, but more importantly to be the best men they can be.
“I know he [Dye] has learned a valuable lesson that he will carry with him the rest of his life,” said Swinney. “He will be telling some young kid twenty years from now the story of himself and helping somebody to really understand the big picture.”
Helping his players learn these life lessons is the part of his job Swinney said he enjoys the best.
“I challenge them a lot,” he said. “I’m not a guy who throws many pity parties for the players. I try to help them in every way that I can. I just want to see them, ultimately, be successful. I want to see them be the best young men they can be and develop tools for life when they leave Clemson – how to work hard, how to have some toughness, handle adversity, be discipline, show up on time, be a part of a team. Those are the things that are more important to me than the score board .... much, much more important to me than the scoreboard. I want them to graduate and when they leave be great ambassadors, good husbands and good fathers.
“And I think that’s the opportunity we have every day as a coach and I don’t take that lightly,” he added. “Billy Graham said one time that a coach influences more lives in a year than most in a lifetime. That’s a pretty huge responsibility if you have coach attached to your name.”