Swinney Takes Up for Himself, the ACC and His Players

Zach Lentz

CLEMSON — Following Saturday's 38-3 win over instate rival and member of the vaunted SEC, Swinney was asked if the Tigers' win was big for the perception of his team in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee.

"It is huge from a national standpoint, because obviously if we lose this game, they are going to kick us out," Swinney said. "They don't want us in there anyway. We would drop to 20, you know? Georgia loses to this very same team, and the next day it's, 'How do we keep Georgia in it?!' We win against the team that beats South Carolina and it's, 'How we get Clemson out?' It's the dadgumest thing. We don't have a choice. We got to go 30-0 because we don't play nobody."

Those comments carried over to Sunday night, when Swinney once again took up for his team and the ACC. 

"You come into this season, it seems like every week I even had to answer a question," Swinney said. "When the First Take show was here, a lot of people think you go undefeated, you shouldn't be in the thing. It's just ludicrous. That's kind of what's been out there all year, as opposed to focusing on who we are as a team.

"I'm not going to let anybody diminish what's been accomplished by our program, first of all, because it's incredible. Again, even going back to ACC Media Days, I made the comment then: we used to couldn't win in the post season because we didn't play people, now we only win because we don't play people. It's just the same old storyline, people just flip it around to whatever their agenda they want to have."

Monday, ESPN SEC analyst Paul Finebaum took a shot at Swinney and his takes on the perception of his third-ranked Tigers.

"I think Dabo Swinney is the most annoying winner in all of sports," Finebaum said. "The guy can't keep his trap shut. Someone just give him a pacifier, send him to timeout, and we will check in on him on Dec. 28 when he finally plays a legitimate team during this entire college football season."

Swinney, who has been on a whirlwind disrespect tour since the win over the South Carolina, responded to Finebaum.

"I like Paul (Finebaum)," Swinney said. "Paul is great at what he does. I’m not going to dislike somebody because he’s great at his job. You know a lot of people don’t like me because I’m good at my job, or because I wear this logo.

"They don’t know me as a person. They just don’t like me because I’m passionate about doing a good job. He works for the SEC. Let’s get (former Clemson offensive lineman and current analyst on The ACC Network) Eric Mac Clain and put him on the shows every day. That’s what he does. That’s his job. I would never be upset at a person because he does a great job. Paul Finebaum is great at what he does."

Swinney not only took up for himself or the program, as he felt that there are a bunch of individuals who are not receiving the national attention that they deserve.

"If there was another team out there that was coming off a 15-0 season and had beaten Alabama by four touchdowns (the rhetoric would be different)," Swinney continued. "I think people should focus more on who we are than who we play...People still talk about Trevor (Lawrence) throwing a few interceptions early in the season. They don't talk about all of the touchdowns. Trevor, if they thought he was good last year, he's so much better than he was last year—at any point. He's twice the quarterback than he was at the national championship game when everybody was crowning him the king of football. He's twice the quarterback, right now today, and people have missed it because there has just been this rhetoric all year long.

"Again, it's not me chastising anybody at all. Everybody does their job. It's me, I just don't think our team is portrayed properly, and I think that people have missed out on a beautiful football team. (Linebacker) James Skalski is a beautiful football player. Oh my goodness. (Running Back) Travis Etienne, what a year he's had. It's incredible. Again, we've dominated 11 out of 12 games. Some people say we've only been good since North Carolina. No, we've been great all year. We've dominated every single opponent. Texas A&M was the 12th ranked team in the country when they came in here. All the sudden, we beat them and now they're no good. It's all driven by perception, media, conversation, rhetoric."

Swinney ended by saying that regardless of what the outside media say about him or his team, he is going to take the advice of his mother.

 "But at the end of the day, I don’t know what he said and don’t really care but I learned, one of the best lessons I’ve learned is that you don’t worry about criticism from people that you wouldn’t seek advice from," Swinney said.