Dabo Dance Party: Clemson coach gets down with players
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has long said the fun in football comes from winning. In the Tigers' locker room, the fun also comes from Dabo's dancing, a concoction of moves that are difficult to categorize but that make it nearly impossible to take your eyes off of him.
Think of Elaine's herky-jerky gyrations on Seinfield.
Swinney's not the only college coach who enjoys getting down with his players. But the 45-year-old coach is front and center with a style - many sessions viewable on Youtube - all his own.
The latest display came last Thursday after the 11th-ranked Tigers (3-0) defeated Louisville, 20-17, to start Atlantic Coast Conference play. Swinney was caught on tape shaking his shoulders, shooting his arms out front like Frankenstein to the smiles of his happy team.
''They need work,'' Clemson safety T.J. Green said of the coach's moves. ''But he's got the understanding of what's going on, so that's all right.''
Swinney said the joy of winning just brings out his Solid Gold side. Although, don't book him for Dancing With The Stars just yet.
''Well, I guess if you've seen me dance, you can tell that there's not much premeditation in it,'' Swinney said. ''I don't have a lot of coaching going on. But we just have fun.''
Swinney and the Tigers have had plenty to celebrate since 2011, when Clemson won its first Atlantic Coast Conference title in two decades. The Tigers are 45-11 the past five seasons and are among only four schools (Alabama, Oregon and Northern Illinois are the others) with double-digit victories in each of the past four seasons.
Clemson can take another big step forward in its next game when it faces No. 6 Notre Dame on Oct. 3.
Swinney said when he took over in midseason 2008, he wanted to ensure players understood that all wins against any opponent is worthy of celebration.
''I don't ever want to be a part of a program or a place that when you win, it ain't no fun,'' Swinney said. ''I think that's sad. It's too hard to win.''
Swinney said his three sons, 17-year-old Will, 15-year-old Drew and 12-year-old Clay, give him tips - and grief - from time to time. His family, Swinney said, just likes to see the Tigers have get foot loose after a hard week of football preparation.
''But I believe we want to have a culture and an atmosphere around here that when we win, man. It's fun,'' Swinney said.
Other coaches have also celebrated with players at practice to loosen the mood or in happy, postgame, winning locker rooms.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury held a practice field dance off with players. If After several Red Raiders go one-on-one against each other, Kingsbury jumps in at the end to challenge a player to do the ''Stankey Leg.''
Swinney isn't sure he'd go that far. Then again, a few of the moves he's put on tape already have some shaking their heads.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson broke into a grin when asked about Swinney's dancing, then volunteered he and other players tried to give him some pointers. ''We coached him up a little bit,'' Watson said. ''We've still got to fix some things.''
In the end, Watson gave Swinney a five out of 10 for the Louisville show.
''He will get better,'' Watson vowed. ''You will see more of it later on throughout the year.''
Count on it, especially if the Tigers keep winning.