Having spent the past five years "changing the culture" of the Clemson football program, Dabo Swinney and his staff now find themselves in the process of protecting what they've built.
The challenge arrives anew each year in the form of personnel turnover, and Swinney said the coaches can't ever afford to take a season off when it comes to the process of teaching 'the Clemson way.'
"We've got excellent character on this team," Swinney said recently. "One of the things we have to do all the time here is protect our culture. We've worked really hard to build a very good culture amongst our players and our staff. But you have to protect that all the time, through your discipline, your off-season program, how you practice, all that stuff.
"Because your program is constantly turning over. You've got guys who've got it, and whoosh, they're gone. You have a whole new group coming in, and you have to start over.
"It's a challenge all the time to make sure you're not having complacency and that you're continuing to teach the things that you believe in."
Part of the teaching process is to help players focus on the different pieces that make up the year-round workload for a football athlete.
"It never stops for these guys," Swinney said. "That's why we break the year into segments - the 'get ready' phase, the 'transform' stage, prime time and championship time. It helps keep 'em focused on what part of the journey that they're on.
Spring practice links the 'get ready' and 'transformation' phases. Swinney said part of that process involves a 'back to basics' approach for both veteran players and newcomers.
"I'm really proud of the way the guys have worked in the 'get ready' phases, and now we're starting out the spring by starting over," he said. "You have new players coming into your team every year, and you can't assume anything. Even though we have a lot of veterans, we've still got quite a few young guys that we have to get up to speed.
"The challenge for us as coaches is to keep those veterans engaged, and bring the young guys along. Having everybody back from a coaching standpoint gives us great continuity and chemistry there. It's less about scheme than it is about what we need to correct. That's the way we structure spring ball."
The Tigers, who've been off since last Wednesday for spring break, will resume practice on Monday, March 24.
Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc