One of college football’s favorite off-season diversions has arrived, as a lucky few coaches are invited to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Golf Challenge. The luckiest among that group got to speak with me.
Much like Kirby Smart, Dabo Swinney stopped off between green and tee box to answer a few quick questions from FootballScoop.
FootballScoop: After the way last season ended for you, I imagine you're one of the few head coaches coming off a successful season that doesn't have to worry about guarding against complacency. Is that correct?
Swinney: I think when you lose the national championship game you're anything but complacent. That's one thing you don't have to guard against. A lot of hunger in our guys in trying to be able to finish what we didn't get finished last year. That has not been a problem at all with this group.
FS: Have you tweaked your approach in any ways from 2015 to 2016?
Swinney: Haven't changed at all. I think we've got an experience from last year that we haven't had in previous years so you kind of learn and grow from that. That's a little different. As far as what we do, we go back, we start over, we reevaluate, we self-evaluate, we recharge, recommit, go back through core values and fundamentals of our program and start over. It's a new team, so we don't take anything for granted. We've got a formula we believe in and that's what we stick to.
FS: How do you balance between putting that national championship carrot out in front of your players while at the same time reinforcing that the 2016 Clemson team hasn't accomplished anything?
Swinney: We've finished in the top 10 three out of the last four years, so we don't have anybody on our team that doesn't expect to win. Everybody on our team, the culture of our program is, we've got to win today. We can't worry about what could happen in December. What's going to happen in December is based on what we do right now, in May. The daily focus and staying committed to the things we believe in and just grinding, trying to win each week. That's all we've talked about in our program. Every game is the biggest game of the year. That doesn't change for us.
FS: What advice would you give to coaches working for their break in coaching?
Swinney: You've just got to network. Get out and work camps, go to clinics, be at the convention, that's the biggest thing. Don't be afraid to take a job that you may not necessarily be your dream job, but you've got to start somewhere. The other thing is, whatever job you do have, be great at it. Be great at it and people will notice you.