In Dabo's Words: 'Our motto all week was find a way to win'

'Our seniors changed this place. We didn't quite get to the top of the mountain like we wanted, but we can see it'

Kathleen and Dabo Swinney celebrate with David Beasley following the Tigers' 40-35 win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium

Photo by Mark Crammer

Kathleen and Dabo Swinney celebrate with David Beasley following the Tigers' 40-35 win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney

"We're one step closer to our goal, which is to be the best in the country. Ohio State, what a great football team. We knew it was going to be an incredibly hard fought game. Our goal was to get it to the fourth quarter. We felt like, if we could get it to the fourth quarter and have the lead or be close, then we could win it.

"It was a lot of fun, man. It was a lot of fun. That's the way it's supposed to be. You don't luck up and get to BCS games. You earn your way there. And you don't luck up and win them. You've got to earn it on the field.

"I'm proud of our guys, proud of our team, our staff. We had great preparation. Everybody was ready. Individuals don't win. Teams win. It was a great team win tonight against a great Ohio State team.

"This was an awesome week for us, just a tremendous week, great experience, and to cap it off with a win is huge.

"This was a special season for us. We started with a top ten team, and we finished with a top ten team. Our first BCS win, the first time in 118 years to have back to back 11 win seasons, first time since 1987 88 to finish in the top ten, because I can't imagine we're not going to finish in the top ten.

"Two years ago, it was probably unthinkable for a lot of people when I sat at this same podium, I guess, after that butt whipping that we took, that we would be 22 4 since that night. We talked that last trip that it wouldn't be 30 years before we got back. We're back, and we found a way to win.

"That was our motto all week, just find a way to win the game. We had enough mistakes to probably lose it, some critical errors, but our guys showed a lot of heart, and they got it done. So it's another tombstone going back to Clemson, and we're excited about that, but most of all, our seniors . I just can't say enough about them.

"Sammy's not a senior, but these two guys right here (Watkins and Tajh Boyd) are special. Five years ago I signed 12 guys, and I didn't have really much of a resume as a head coach. It wasn't very sexy to come to Clemson. But we had a plan, a vision, a hope, and a belief, and these guys believed, starting with this guy right here, Tajh Boyd.

"I sat in his house at his kitchen table in Virginia, and Ohio State, Jim Tressel was, I think, in the backyard waitng for me to leave. And I sat there, and I told him, I said, Tajh, here's the plan. If you'll believe in me, we'll change Clemson. We'll change it. It's not going to be easy. We've got a lot of work to do, but we will change Clemson.' To see this young man finish his career tonight with an exclamation point like he did and leave here as the winningest quarterback in the history of our school - he tied with Rodney Williams - there's not a more deserving guy out there, and he did it in three years as our starting quarterback. He's special.

"All these seniors, they changed Clemson. And how do you measure people or their legacy? How do they impact the people there? How do they impact the place that they were at? Our seniors changed this place. We didn't quite get to the top of the mountain like we wanted, but we can see it. Tonight we took another step forward, and I'm just so proud of these guys. They're the winningest senior class since 1991, and they have set a standard here that everybody will be measured up against as we continue to move forward.

"So thank you to all the Discover Orange Bowl folks for a great week. I'm just so happy and proud of our team to find a way to win the game.

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Comments » 2

harryD writes:

Good job Dabo...anybody miss losing in the Humanitarian Bowl...

CUNo1Fan writes:

Now just instill that same attitude for the rest of the big games in the season where the Tigers play like they have nothing to lose. Do that and I as well as most other Tiger fans will be happy. We can handle losing one every now and then as long as we show up, play a good game, are mentally prepared for the game, and leave it all on the field. We just can't handle losing like we did to FSU where we look totally unprepared for the game because the teams emotions are so high that when some adversity hits, they fold.

That is the difference I see between our wins over LSU and tOSU vs. our loss to FSU. The team was so emotionally high for that game that they came out "stiff" and it showed. That emotion comes from the HC which is one of the best and worse things about Dabo. He is so emotional and wears his heart on his sleeve and that is passed on to the players which isn't always a good thing. The players literally don't want to disappoint him because they feel so emotionally attached to him which again is both a good and bad thing. The result is when those goals are on the line, such as win the ACC Championship which we all know hinged on the FSU game, they simply were scared to lose and disappoint Dabo. You can easily see the difference in that vs. the other games when it was simply "find a way to win" and the team played loose and relaxed. They didn't get down on themselves when they got behind and keep fighting through the adversity.

Believe it or not, we the fans can also handle the occasional loss to the coots, just not 5 in a row.

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