This golden age of Clemson Football has been spectacular, and Tiger Nation owes a huge part of that joy to head coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney has steered the ship over the years. One of his points of leadership has been that he has set up team goals focused on keeping the team’s sights set on what is in front of them, instead of drifting off towards lofty goals.
Lofty goals like national championships.
The team has had simple goals under Swinney.
- Win the opener.
- Win the division.
- Win the state.
- Win the conference.
- Win the closer.
The second has adjusted slightly to “Qualify for the ACC championship game” because divisions have been eliminated for football, but that’s a minor detail.
These goals all had a purpose, and they kept the team focused on the immediate future. If the team was able to accomplish these five goals, then bigger things like playoff berths and a Natty would come.
If the team did stumble, there was always another goal to focus on. Swinney’s philosophy on team goals has been credited with keeping the team’s head on straight.
Clemson Football coach Dabo Swinney is more willing to change than most people think
Like many fans, I was a little surprised by the early mentions by several players of pursuing a national championship this early. It doesn’t seem to fit with Swinney’s philosophy.
I was even more surprised when Swinney himself brought up that every class since 2013 had won a national championship, and the 2019 class was on the clock.
"“I know what it costs. There ain’t no guarantees for what we’re chasing, and we’re doing the chasing. This is your last shot. Every class since 2013 has won a national championship here. Y’all are on the clock. This is it.”"
I am not worried about this shift in mentality, just surprised.
Swinney has a reputation for being conservative with his methods. He doesn’t change for the sake of change. As such, if he has changed his message to the team, then there is a reason behind it.
It is possible that he simply read the room and determined that he needed to push different buttons with this team than he had with past teams.
We will know in about a month if it is working.