Swinney says he thinks move to Big 12 won't happen, isn't beneficial for Clemson
CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has a message for everyone that thinks Clemson might be moving to the Big 12.
It’s not gonna happen.
Swinney spoke with TigerNet Tuesday afternoon prior to the opening drills of his annual high school camp, and he made sure his thoughts were heard loud and clear.
“Going to the Big 12 is something I don’t think is best for us, and I know for a fact that we are 100 percent committed to making this the best program and best conference we possibly can,” Swinney said “It has been a real distraction. I am a football coach, I don’t run the university and I don’t want to run the university. That isn’t my grass to mow. If they tell me we are going to play in the Japanese League, then I am going to get the team ready to go play. My job is to please President Barker, Terry Don Phillips and the Board of Trustees. That’s my job. Period. The end.
“Certainly as the head football coach I have an opinion, and you know it has been very frustrating. Quite frankly, I think there has been a lot of irresponsible reporting or blogging. We live in a world where someone hears something from a guy in the third stall down in the bathroom, and it is like, ‘That’s the fact. That’s the way it is.’ But it is so far removed from reality and it just takes a life of its own. It has been a real distraction. We are 1000 percent committed to the ACC.”
Swinney then said that Clemson isn’t going to be left out of any title discussions.
“There’s one thing I know- I think every major team in the country with the uncertainty out there, ACC, SEC, Big 12, has to pay attention to what’s going on,” he said. “One thing I know for sure is that Clemson isn’t getting left out. This is an elite program. This is a program that has incredible grassroots, incredible and passionate fans, incredible tradition, can recruit at the highest level, can win at the highest level, has great resources. There’s one thing I know- if there was an implosion in college football or a great restructuring of college football, Clemson is not getting left behind. There are a lot of teams that will get left behind, but Clemson is not one of them. That I know.”
Swinney said that such a move would not be beneficial for Clemson.
“In my opinion, going to the Big 12 would be the worst thing we could do as a football program,” Swinney said. “It makes zero sense. We are the ACC. This is a program that has just won the championship and we’ve won it more than any other team in the conference. We can fulfill any goal and dream we have right here in this conference. We have a tremendous footprint to recruit in, to play in.”
He said that recruiting has received negative attention because of all the talk.
“If you want to know how going to the Big 12 is going to affect Clemson, I’ve lived it for about the last month,” he said. “It has been very negative, very negative. It has impacted and affected our recruiting. I’ve had to spend a lot of time re-recruiting guys and assuring them that we aren’t going to the Big 12. It has been a big distraction and it has been negative, quite frankly. I’m speaking from the front lines. My job is to coach the team, and we’ll coach them wherever. It has been irresponsible on a lot of people’s parts on some of the stuff that has been put out there. I know for a fact that we are committed to making this the best league that it can possibly be and committed to making Clemson the national champion.”
He was told that his presence at this week’s Board of Trustees meeting is seen as a sign of an impending move, and he said he couldn’t change people’s perceptions.
“That’s the world we live in. We have a great board [of trustees]. They are my bosses,” he said. “The president is my boss. The AD is my boss. My job is to please them. That’s just something that is not going to happen. If they came and said, we are going to play in Japan, I would say, ‘alright.’ I just don’t think that is anywhere close to reality. That would be very negative for Clemson, in my opinion. We would have to change our footprint. We have a footprint at Clemson University that has been established for a long, long time from a recruiting standpoint. The fact of the matter is that other conferences may like to have us, I don’t know, but we would have to go recruit on their territory. This southeast footprint- not that you don’t get a guy out of there from time-to-time, but this southeast footprint has been our bread and butter. That’s what has made Clemson. People don’t want to leave here. They want to play in this footprint and that’s a fact. I just don’t think it would be a wise decision, but that’s just the football coach’s opinion.”
He then said that the ACC simply has to play better on the national stage.
“What we need to do is take care of business at Clemson,” he said. “Look at last year, we weren’t even ranked and we wound up ranked fifth in the BCS. We have to continue to build our brand. This is an outstanding conference, a conference on the rise. Very balanced. We have not produced that 13-0, 12-1 team. It just hasn’t happened. The SEC has earned the right to play for it, and we haven’t done that. If we take care of our business at Clemson, then we will have a seat at that table. We can achieve everything right here. Our conference is on the verge, and my goal is for Clemson to be the team to get the conference back on the national scene. “