Friday, December 2, 2011

Dabo: The new Danny Ford? Nah, just the new Frank Howard?

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney went on an insane rant about the Gamecocks and Steve Spurrier this week.  As most people have surmised, it was 99.9% media theatre designed to toss some much-needed red meat to a hurting Clemson fan base and to get them fired up for Saturday’s “World’s Sexiest Aardvark” Pageant, aka the ACC Championship.  It appears to have worked on both counts. 

Besides being the first Tigger head coach to start 1-3 against USC in 77 years, Swinney has now officially set himself on a path to leave a permanent mark on the rivalry.  Tiger fans will hope against hope that he is the second coming of Danny Ford, but really I see Dabo as transforming into the modern version of Frank Howard.  Now that Swinney has decided to drop all filters when speaking about the rivalry despite having a losing record against the Gamecocks, you can see why.  

Maybe other than Pitchfork Ben Tillman, no one did more to add spice and energy to the Carolina-Clemson rivalry than Coach Howard.  He never did get over having a losing record against Carolina, and he always had a “colorful” and stinging remark about USC as a result.  A man who understood how to work the media, Coach Howard will always be remembered for his “paw print” on the Palmetto State’s annual gridiron war.  

Now before anyone screams that Dabo has yet to accomplish anything that Coach Howard did at Clemson (ACC titles, big bowl wins, etc), don’t misunderstand.  I get that he is not there yet.  I am saying that he will certainly have ample opportunity now that he has chosen this inflammatory media route.  Assuming he keeps up his current pattern, who is to say his tenure at Clemson won’t be a “success” even if he fails against the Gamecocks?  

For instance, this week’s tactics very well could fire Clemson up to a zenith that leads to a repeat win against Va. Tech on Saturday.  Like hyper tree frogs, Tiger fans would leap on that and instantly pretend the rivalry game never happened.  Then since the Orange Bowl is where the BCS will be sending their “have to take them” teams to play in a largely anonymous setting, I could easily see the Moo-Moos drawing an easy opponent and winning that game too.  Just imagine the collective tongue bath that would be happening in the upstate following that if it happens.  

If not, Dabo will come up with some new slogan to feed the masses for 2012.  We’ve gone through All In, One Dream, Greatness in us, Chicken in Every Pot, I like Ike, Free Nelson Mandela, Got Milk, Hakuna MaTigers and goodness knows how many more during the Swinney era.  

Say what you want about Swinney, but there is no question about this:  Dat Boy ain’t boring.  We could be enjoying Frank Howard, the sequel without even knowing it. 


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