Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Dabo is beloved by Tigers AND Gamecocks!

Before anyone misreads the intent of this column’s title, let me say right up front that I am NOT taking a jab at the Tigers.  I really mean this and will explain why I think both schools love Dabo Swinney coaching at Clemson (and want him to remain there for the near future).  Frankly, it is a fascinating part of college football in the Palmetto State.  

Let me start with my friends in orange.  I have talked to many of my Tiger buddies since Saturday night’s rivalry game.  This group includes fans of Clemson who I would call “realistic” and those that better carry the description of “radical.”  Almost all of them still love Dabo despite his record against the Gamecocks.  Based on their comments, you can see why.  Under Swinney, Clemson has bagged its first conference championship since 1991, has landed recruiting classes that are very highly ranked and is really now one of only two ACC teams to whom attention is paid.  Moo U, just like USC, had another 10-win season and is in the top 15 in the nation.  Basically, as I said in a column last year, Dabo is the 2nd coming of Frank Howard, who struggled with Carolina but was beloved by Tiger fans until the day he died.

Gamecock fans also are quite happy with Coach Swinney’s era in Tigertown. He is only the 2nd coach in Clemson history to have a 4-game losing streak to the Gamecocks.  The other?  Frank Howard of course, from 1951-54. In fact, when Dabo took over in 2008, there was a growing worry in Columbia that the Spurrier era was about to fall flat.  After all, Spurrier was 1-2 against Clemson at that point.  When Swinney won that year’s rivalry game as Moo U’s interim coach, he became an orange cult hero.  Meanwhile, the legendary Spurrier was all of a sudden 1-3 against Clemson and reeling.  Then Dabo got the head coach title and the Gamecocks haven’t lost since.  

Then there is Dabo’s personality.  You have to add this into the equation to see why both schools cling to the car salesman in the K-Mart sweatshirt.  Again, much like Coach Howard, Swinney has made going after the Gamecocks a big part of his shtick.  It has both paid dividends and led to devastating consequences.  On the plus side, the red meat he has tossed out has revved up his fan base and rallied them together behind him.  On the other hand, it was the key factor in motivating a Gamecock squad to its fourth-straight victory in the series of late, in a year where they had largely lost the fire.  

Clemson’s coach is already moving on to the next media campaign to keep his fan base behind him.  The target of his new spin is the disrespect the ACC receives nationally.  The great thing about this tactic is that all sides of the argument amongst Tigger fans agree with him.  For those who want to remain in the ACC to enjoy the easy path to 10 wins, Dabo’s comments fit.  They want the conference to continue to receive automatic goodies like multiple BCS berths and guaranteed rankings regardless of merit.  For those who want to leave the ACC because they view Clemson as being “trapped” in a situation that makes them weaker, Dabo’s comments fit.  They want Clemson in the SEC or the Big 12 tomorrow!  

In the meantime, Gamecocks and Tigers are firmly united on one issue:  Dabo should remain the head coach at Clemson!  Whatever the future holds for him, he already has scripted a significant legacy in the rivalry’s annals.  Maybe even one as colorful as old Coach Howard’s.  It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!  

No comments:

Post a Comment


We will review all comments before they appear on the blog. Cock-A-Booster has final say in what appears on the blog and what is withheld. Please keep your comments PG-rated.