Sorry Dan, Clemson is Not Playing Pee Wee Football

Zach Lentz

RALEIGH — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked early this season about his philosophy on running up the score on opponents. 

His response following the Tigers' 52-10 over the Charlotte 49ers in September, "We want to beat the opponent, but we never want to embarrass anyone. We could have won by 100 points if we had left Trevor in."

But when the calendar changes to November things change.

Which was exactly the case Saturday night.

With the Tigers up 49-10, after recovering a muffed punt by NC State, Swinney seemingly channeled his inner Steve Spurrier and went the jugular.

Following a timeout from NC State and the ball on the 1-yard line, Swinney called a pass play before allowing true freshman Mikey Dukes to put over the half-century mark.

When asked about why he chose to go for the points rather than taking a knee, Swinney said it was NC State's job to stop the Tigers.

"We are just trying to let them play," Swinney said. "They could have stopped us, too. And they didn't. We subbed everybody. Nobody else to put in there. Just put those guys in there." 

However, the Tigers were in a no-win situation. Score and they were running up the their margin of victory. Take a knee on the 1-yard line and it would be perceived as an even bigger slap in the face. 

That point was lost on a few of the national media, especially USA Today writer, Dan Wolken, who apparently had amnesia when it came to teams like Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama and LSU running up the score on lesser opponents.

"And as far as running it up on NC State, why the need to justify it? Just say, Dabo was in the mood to be an a-hole [sic] last night and move on," Wolken wrote on Twitter. "It what it is."

The exchange continued with on-air personality Mark Sturgis jumping in to defend Swinney.

So ... you telling me 3rd team players can't play hard? This just continues the "Wussification of America"," Sturgis wrote.

However, Wolken continued his double-standard by responding, "No, I’m saying that when you are up 39 points and there’s 90 seconds left and the other team isn’t calling timeouts, teams go into victory formation."

While Wolken may be correct that some "teams go into victory formation," he neglected to answer why it is OK for Ohio State to kick an onside kick up two scores against a clearly overmatched Maryland team.

For the Tigers, expect them to do the same thing if the opportunity presents itself because they are in the midst of a championship run.

"The mindset is it's championship football," co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. "We're trying to score every time we get the football. We want to continue the momentum. We don't want to give (our) guys any indication that we are backing off. We want to keep our foot on pedal. Because right now it's November and this is when you've got to play our best football."

I guess maybe Dan needs to understand that this is big-boy football, and not everyone gets a trophy and maybe, just maybe it is still the defenses job to stop the offense — even in the fourth quarter.

Comments (8)
No. 1-6

Class punches no ticket to CFP and is not a committee criteria. Try Ohio State over Maryland 73-14. In the championship phase, you:-

  1. Hold no prisoners.
  2. Build self confidence.
  3. Stamp 'FEAR' in your opponents' heart and soul. The subs have been working long and hard and deserve a little fun. NO KNEE. Beat Dave up and take him to dinner later if he does not understand. ALL BUSINESS.

Great story, Zach, and right on point. This entire season so far has been about a double standard for Clemson.


What is a criteria is “the best four teams” in the nation. Sometimes style points help make then decision between teams that have razor thin differences. Some teams run the scores up more than others, OSU and Oklahoma being two of the “worst” to do so.


It may not be a 100% accurate observation but it feels like the amount of problems Dan Wolken has with college coaches is related to how much they make. Top earners really draw some personal comments from him. He is a major "pay the players" advocate. And every time a coaches salary is mentioned, especially after new contracts are signed, like clockwork he jumps on that wagon.


Gonna be honest... As a bama fan I hate y'all. But your team is good and warrants respect it doesn't get. Play a close game and it's all "oh look how overrated they are" win the next 5 by 40+ and it's "wow look at Clemson running up the score." The media just needs a story to run. Win out make the playoffs earn respect again... Then next year it'll be the same story, but that's another year to earn a shot and show it was well earned. Maybe eventually Swinney can shut them up... But if Saban can't do it... Good luck anyways.

Susan Lloyd
Susan Lloyd

Love the way you hate Clemson, Romulus! I think it's more like complete disdain with a healthy dose of respect. I think it's probably a mutual thing from Clemson fans. By the way, I've seen a few #fireSaban mentions on Twitter, which I think is ridiculous, crazy talk. That's not the general consensus amongst the fan base, is it?