CLEMSON — Spring is a time for experimentation, visiting other programs and learning new ideas, while simultaneously hosting other coaches who are looking to do the same.
This spring, Clemson coaches visited Oklahoma State and Nevada, and coaches sporting unfamiliar polo shirts are a common sight in the WestZone.
Dabo Swinney picked up new offensive ideas from both programs, but the Cowboys gave him a concept that affects something you might not think about – the spring schedule.
For years, the Tigers have held spring practices on Saturdays.
With the exception of next Saturday’s Orange and White game, it won’t happen this year, thanks to a thought provided by Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
“That’s why you go out there and visit,” Swinney said this week. “ Sometimes you learn new things that catch your attention, you talk about it as a staff. They never practice on Saturdays. You question why. Mike made a good point to me.
“Listen, do you ever sit down and count up how many weekends your coaches and players don’t have something they’re doing, that they’re not involved in something? If you look at it, there’s very few. Very few weekends you’re not doing something, you’re not preparing for a game. Now you’re in the spring, you’re looking at it, we just made a decision. We’re going to go hard on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. It’s really made our Friday practices great.”
In 24 years as a college football player and coach, Swinney said he never gave Saturday spring practices a second thought until he sat down and thought about it.
“What happens is, you come in as a coach, you’re here at 6:30, 7 on Saturday morning, by the time you get done it’s 5 o’clock. It becomes a grind at that point,” he said. “You look up and you’ve missed all these weekends and your players hardly ever get any weekends off. That was the big thing for us. We talked about it and said let’s try it. Our players, discussing it with our leadership council, they were like, ‘Absolutely. We’d love to do that.’ Again, should be about the players, trying to do things to get better.”
Clemson originally planned its spring drills for Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but changed the Saturday workouts to Mondays. How ingrained is the old schedule in Swinney’s mind? He spent 10 minutes talking about events that happened in “Saturday’s” scrimmage – which took place on Monday.
“As dads and husbands, you wear a lot of hats,” he said. “Sometimes you have conflicts between the multiple opportunities you have. It’s an opportunity for wives to plan things, dads to be able to do things on a Saturday and also for our players. That’s the biggest reason. It’s not like we’re in a rush. We can get it done. We have the time.”