This editorial comes from listening to hours of Clemson fans on the radio today…
Remember Ken Hatfield?
Yeah, probably not for his career at Clemson(32-13-1–I’d guess a few people would take that 4 year run now), but he was the guy that replaced the legend, Danny Ford. We can argue the merits of Clemson dismissing Ford all day–honestly, it was an era that was before my time(which speaks to irrelevancy now of it to begin with). Hatfield won an ACC Championship in his 4 years at Clemson–but in the desire not to go too revisionist history here–Clemson was winning a lot of them around that time. Hatfield was not going to satisfy Clemson fans no matter what.
Dabo isn’t going to either. Former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden left Swinney in an unenviable position. The expectations of a rabid fanbase combined with frustration of the Bowden years equals all the more viotrol towards Dabo when he does not win. Going into this season, there were a lot of hurt feelings among people who had different candidates in mind for the Clemson job post-Bowden(and the names were numerous as they had a lot of time to come up with them), but some were “all-in”–and a lot were “in-until-Dabo-fails-then-I’m-gonna-tell-everybody-I-was-right-to-begin-with-ha!”. It is a common disease among fans in this age where access is plentiful and a shortage of intelligence is prevalent on message boards, talk radio, and lastly, the blogosphere(ironic–if you disagree with me).
If we have learned anything in these five games with Clemson, the cupboard may have been a little more bare than we thought. Maybe not in talent so much, but in the ability to pull together as a team and execute. Coaching is an issue no doubt, but players make plays. Those plays are not being made in Clemson in the key situations. The players that are making plays are easily seen in guys like C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford, or Deandre McDaniel, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Clemson is a team with good-to-great players, but just not a good-to-great team right now. The Tigers were not quite the take one coach out–insert another and they win the ACC that many thought they could be.
In the age of the quick-trigger finger of ADs, Clemson fans are flooding their favorite media outlet to gather the torches and pitchforks for Dabo’s coaching regime to get a change. It’s ridiculous. Clemson has shown itself to not be a quick-fix. From what I have seen, Swinney is a guy that will work hard to turn that around–but it will require the ever-shrinking value of patience. So what if Clemson does not win the ACC this season? They have not done it since Hatfield in 1991! If you believed in Dabo before the season, how can you want to fire him now? What Swinney does at Clemson will be measured in 2-3 years if they let him–and in this economy–got to think he will have to be there unless the school desires to fire Swinney and their AD Terry Don Phillips. Swinney is Phillips’ biggest decision at Clemson and if Dabo goes–the blame falls on Phillips for the hire.
Basically, the take-home message here is to ease off the ledge, Clemson fans. I realize it is tremendously disappointing to nearly be out of it yet again, but if you believed in this coach before the season, there has not been anything that should shake that if you are looking long term. If you didn’t believe in Swinney, obviously (insert your hire for the job) was the clear right choice for the Tigers–Clemson is sorry for not having you as AD.
Thanks for reading my therapy session…Would actually love to have the Clemson coaching decision discussion no matter how exasperated I sound with it…It is thoroughly intriguing to me.