SUNSET - If all goes as expected, a year from now Dabo Swinney will be standing on the practice green at The Reserve at Lake Keowee, talking about a full-blown, wide-open preseason battle among quarterbacks Cole Stoudt, Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson.
For now, at a time many coaches are about to take a turn on the hot seat, Swinney sits in a rare and extremely comfortable easy chair, going into a season led by a record-breaking, confident, third-year starting quarterback.
It's a luxury he'll enjoy daily throughout August, and then on into the fall.
"Tajh (Boyd) has the experience to draw on," said Swinney on Tuesday at Clemson's summer media day. "He's been there, in the big battles, and has had success and failures. All those things are important, especially at his position.
Tigers eager to get started
Practice starts Aug. 2
"He understands our system to the nth degree. He's not just a guy going out and trying to function. He's functioning at a higher level, just because of his knowledge. He understands our protections. It's his game management and his leadership ability.
"All of those things are special when you have a third-year starter. This is the first time I've been in this situation, and it's a lot of fun. Your conversations are different from where they were three years ago - night and day - and I expected him to be a good player going into 2011.
"His interaction with the team as a leader is just very different as a third-year starter, as opposed to just getting going."
Swinney will spend much of the rest of July talking about his Tigers, as he'll follow up his local media day by participating in the ACC's Football Kickoff at Greensboro.
In two weeks, the Tigers will step on the practice field as a consensus top-10 team, preparing for their opener against Georgia, which will likely be ranked even higher than Clemson.
"At this time of year there's always excitement and enthusiasm, for the players, the fans and the coaches," Swinney said. "We live in the South and people love college football.
"It's my favorite time of year, and to be honest with you, it's the easiest time of year for me because there's so much structure that comes with it. I look forward to the season and I enjoy being with the players every day. It's the best part of this job, watching them grow and mature.
"So it's exciting to kick it off and get started. Plus, there's the fact that we're opening with a game against a team like Georgia. That just throws more fuel on that fire."
Swinney said that while "it's been a fun spring and summer," now he's ready to get to work.
"The reports I've gotten in the guys have been good," he said. "I'm anxious to get out there and start evaluating them."