CUTrevor 2017-12-30 07:30:24

We'll have interviews with Dabo, coaches and several players today from the Superdome. Stay tuned!

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Good morning. I hope everyone is enjoying your trip here to New Orleans. Today is a fun day. It's fun for our players to have an opportunity to come. And first time they've been in the Dome [Mercedes?Benz Superdome]. So it's a chance to come in here and see the Dome and hang out with y'all a little bit. It's a Thursday for us. That's our mindset as far as getting ready for the game. So today's a big day.


We've had good practices here. I like the focus and the mindset that I've seen in practice. As a coach, that's kind of how you gauge the readiness of your team. These guys are well?prepared for what they're going to have to compete against Monday night.


But today's a big day in our preparation. It's what we call Team Thursday where we kind of bring it all together. We've been prepping for a long time. And I know the guys are starting to get excited. But we really have to start honing in and each player individually, coaches, everybody, really locking it in and getting themselves ready to go. Because this week is moving fast.


Really have enjoyed our time. Appreciate the Sugar Bowl folks. Made it a great experience for us, but, really, just ready to go and can't wait to see this place filled up and run out here and compete against the best of the best.


Q. Coach, you make a demanding and, at times, a grueling profession look fun. And how are you able to be yourself but also be successful at what you do?

DABO: Well, first of all, I don't know how to be anything but myself. So I personally don't think you can be very successful if you don't just be who you are. So, I mean, that's how I got here. I've just always kind of embraced who I am. I don't really worry about anything else, just try to trust my instincts.


But, to answer the rest of your question, I love what I do. I mean, I think, when you love what you do, you're passionate about it and you have fun. I love what I do. I love being with the players. And I love competing. I love being a part of a team. I love having an opportunity to help impact and shape young people's lives through the game of football.


So I don't look at it as a ?? I mean, your job is demanding. Everybody's job is demanding. You're shaking your head. Not so? (Chuckles).


I think, if you're really passionate about what you do, your job can be so?called "demanding." I don't look at a clock. I don't think about a schedule. I just wake up every day, and I'm excited to go to work. It's something that I'm really passionate about, and I love where I work.


So I think that I'm very fortunate in that regard and very blessed to get to do something that I chose to do a long time ago. I made a decision in 1993 that I was going to coach. And that's what I wanted to do. And I've enjoyed every second of it.


Q. What makes Hunter Renfrow so great as a player? And what does he mean to your program?

DABO: Well, Hunter [Renfrow] means a lot to our program. He's a junior now. And I know he seems like he may have been around here for a long time, but he's a junior. He's just a great young man. He's a great leader. He's an inspiration to his teammates. I think he's an inspiration to a lot of people because he's just kind of an ordinary guy. Most of y'all would walk right by Hunter Renfrow and never think he's Hunter Renfrow. I think he's a great inspiration from that standpoint.


You know what? It's not always how you look on the outside. He's not the biggest, obviously. But you can take what you have and still find a way to be special in your own right. And I think that's what he's done. I mean, he was 155 pounds when he got to Clemson, weak as a noodle. And he's just accentuated his strengths. He's always quick, always fast. He's got the fastest shuttle on the team. His explosiveness is what makes him special. And then he's brilliant. He's a brilliant football player. He played quarterback in high school.


He wasn't a receiver. Now he's really become a complete player at receiver. He really understands route running, and he understands defense. He understands influence. He understands technique and break points and how to set things up. And then he's got outstanding ball skills. And he has this grit and will to get the ball, will to get the extra yard, will to get his job done that is ?? I think that's what makes him special. And I think that's also what inspires his teammates.


I think he epitomizes our program. I said that last year. I think the epitome of our program was the last play in the national championship. You have a five?star quarterback throwing the game?winning pass to a walk?on receiver. We're going to play the best guy. And the best guy is the guy that earns it and does it on the practice field. It's not the highest?recruited guy or who other people think should be the guy. It's the guy that earns it. And that's just embraced by everybody in our program.


Q. Can you share what you remember from 25 years ago on this field? And could you have imagined that 25 years later you would be surrounded by so many of the same people?

DABO: No. (Laughter). Only the good Lord would have a plan like this. I would have never imagined anything like this. I would imagine maybe being on the Alabama side, because that's kind of how I grew up and spent 13 years in Tuscaloosa and was a part of two Sugar Bowls, but never in my wildest dreams.


As a kid, I had a buddy who I played baseball with at Hoover ballpark. His parents, they had tickets to go to the Alabama?Arkansas Sugar Bowl. I was 10 years old. So I made that trip, first time to come to Louisiana. I was blown away by Bourbon Street. In fact, my mom gave me a picture at Christmas of me tap dancing with a street guy that was a tap dancer collecting money. All these people gathered around. Here I'm this 10?year?old tap dancing on Bourbon Street ?? I never forgot that ?? decked out in all my Alabama stuff.


I remember coming in here ?? I don't know. I probably sat up there somewhere ?? and watched the Alabama?Arkansas game.         I didn't get to see many Alabama games as a kid, but that was an impactful experience for me.


And then, ten years later, 1989, I'm a player at Alabama. And I'm here for the Alabama?Miami game as a freshman. That was just an unbelievable experience. And then, my senior year in '92, we're back here. It was a magical week, season, everything.


But I do remember the time with my teammates. The game was a blur. It was almost like it was moving in slow motion. I mean, I was a starter on special teams. The fourth play of the game I was in the game. And I don't know which way we were going, but David Palmer ?? we almost took the punt all the way back. And it was our first possession offensively. It was like, I don't know, inside the ten or something, ended up having to kick a field goal. But the game was just surreal.


Alabama folks remember it was a long time since Alabama won a national championship, since '79. So this was 1992. So it was a big deal. It was the 100th year. It was pretty special.


But what I remember about it was a couple things. I will never forget George Teague's play. I watched it live, and I still can't believe I watched that. I mean, it's still, to this day, one of the most unbelievable plays I've ever seen in my life. It was just crazy, but it happened. I remember that.


I remember there was three or four minutes to go in the game. And I came out of the game. They put some other guys in. I was like, well, that's it, you know? I remember standing on the sideline just literally like a kid just soaking it in, like, this is my ?? unless the Dallas Cowboys were going to call me, I was probably going to be done. So this was going to be my last play, you know? I'd played forever. I'd lived my dream. And I just wanted to just kind of soak it in. And I really did.


But I remember, I stole a game ball. The managers run the balls in and out. So I said, "Hey, I need one of them. I'm a senior. I'm taking a ball." And I held onto that ball. And it was so funny. Because, in the paper the next day ?? back then you had to look at the paper. There was no Internet. If you wanted to see a picture, you had to look at the paper. Then you had to write the guy, you had to write him a note and say "Hey, will you send me that picture?" You couldn't just text it or whatever.


So the next day in the paper there was a big picture. And it was me and Sherman Williams. I ran all the way around this stadium high?fiving all the Alabama folks. And it's so funny. In that picture, I got that ball locked down. That's the best ball security you've ever seen. I got that ball locked down. And I got it to this day. I have kept that ball forever just sitting in my house.


So I remember that. And then the locker room, the experience in the locker room, the joy of being with your teammates and just knowing that you got it done. That's the greatest moment that you could experience as a player. Because, at the end of the day, that's what it comes down to. That's what everybody's going to remember is those relationships, just the togetherness. And that was a special team. We had a 25?year reunion this year, and it was special then. We got back together, and it's like it was yesterday.


And I had not been here in 25 years. The last time I had been in this place was 25 years ago until ?? I don't know if it was March or April. But we came for the Manning Award and literally drove in here onto the field and got out of the car. So 25 years later, we had just won the national championship at Clemson and first time I had been back in this dome. So it's pretty special to be here.


Growing up in Alabama, the Sugar Bowl has kind of always been your dream. Certainly, as a coach, I didn't know if I'd ever have the opportunity to be a coach in the Sugar Bowl. So this is a dream come true for me to have an opportunity to coach in this game.


Q. While we're going back in time a little bit, you were a young assistant when Jeremy Pruitt played at Alabama. What do you remember about Jeremy as a player and what's allowed him to climb the ranks of the coaching position? 

DABO: Well, Jeremy transferred in from Middle Tennessee, I believe. And I think I was a GA maybe his first year or so, and then I was full?time maybe when he finished it up. And I think he might have been a GA for maybe one year, student coach or something, before he moved on.


But, you know, the biggest thing I would say about Jeremy [Pruitt], he's a very smart player, an instinctive player, a tough guy. His dad was a long?time high school coach. I knew Jeremy for a long time when he got into high school coaching. So he was a high school coach for many years and ended up over at Hoover with Rush [Propst]. So I would see those guys all the time. I had that area. So I watched him as a defensive coordinator in high school do an unbelievable job.


And then I have watched him as he moved back to Alabama and then competed against him at Georgia, at Florida State. So he's a great coach. And he's been well?groomed. I think he'll do a good job at Tennessee.


Q. What is your assessment of Alabama's tight end Irv Smith, Jr., and the threats he may pose?

DABO: Is he from Louisiana?

Q. He's from New Orleans.

DABO: Yeah. Good player. I mean, he's just another one of those guys that kind of fits the mold, big, strong, physical guys. They've been playing a couple guys all year.


All you got to do is watch our games the last couple years. They like to get the tight end involved, especially in the action game. I think he's got a bright future. He fits the mold for what they want in their system. They want big, strong, physical guys but guys that can also bring a presence in the passing game.


Q. You received a visit from Chad Jasmin yesterday at practice. I was just wondering what it was like to see him again. Did he bring back a lot of memories from your first season at Clemson?

DABO: It was good to see Chad [Jasmin]. This is the first time we've signed a kid from Louisiana since I've been the head coach and when we got Travis [Etienne]. So we had some fun kind of talking about that.


But Chad is great. I still remember running the trap with him on third and long against Tennessee in the Peach Bowl in 2003. He was a tough, hard?nosed football player. I was only around him a couple years. When I first came to Clemson, he was finishing up. But I've always liked Chad. It was good to see him yesterday.


Q. You received a visit from Chad Jasmin yesterday at practice. I was just wondering what it was like to see him again. Did he bring back a lot of memories from your first season at Clemson?

DABO: It was good to see Chad [Jasmin]. This is the first time we've signed a kid from Louisiana since I've been the head coach and when we got Travis [Etienne]. So we had some fun kind of talking about that.


Billy Napier was a young guy, a GA, that did a really nice job for us, now is a head coach.


So I value all the people who've come through our organization.  And from time to time, you have some change. And I've always embraced that, too. I mean, last year, we didn't lose a coordinator, but I lost two of the best coaches in college football ?? Dan Brooks who was, man, I mean, he was a rock. He'd been my deep tackle coach from day one. Marion Hobby had been my D?ends coach for six years, is now the D?line coach for the Jags. Those two guys were big shoes to fill.


But sometimes, when you have change, it's fun to be able to bring in sometimes a different mindset or a different energy or whatever. I was able to hire Todd Bates. Todd has been a great addition. He's done an awesome job. But, from a coordinator standpoint, I think the stability has been great.


But I think also the main thing for me has always been to develop the staff, just like you develop your players. You got that freshman that comes in ?? or a Kelly Bryant. For two years, nobody knows who he is. And then, oh, my goodness, a great player leaves your program. And what are you going to do?


You develop your guys. And, if you do a good job of that, then, hopefully, you can promote from within, whether it's a next player coming through your program or it's somebody on your staff. So the last guy we lost was Chad Morris. And I guess he's been gone three or four years.


And I had Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott. Tony played for me; Jeff Scott was a GA for me. We developed those guys, and they were ready for the opportunity. They've done a phenomenal job since then.


So I think, again, continuity is great. But I think the development of everyone on your staff is just as important and the chemistry that you have with those guys.


Q. Update us where you are health?wise. And, more broadly, how fortunate do you feel to at least go into this game about as healthy as you could expect to be?

DABO: Well, very fortunate. It's always a tough challenge this time of year, because you got a long time to get ready. Football ?? especially if you are going to play Alabama, I mean, you can't go out there and play two?hand touch. You better bump and grind a little bit or you're in trouble. So you just got to get ready. The only way I know how to get them ready is to practice with toughness and physicality and good on good.


So you have to balance that along with just your preparation, your game prep stuff. Because it's a long time since you've played. So we're very fortunate to come off of three?plus weeks, or whatever we've had, to be a healthy football team. We're where we want to be going into it. I think we've developed some guys, because we had some injuries all year long along the way. We've had injuries at linebacker, injuries at D?line, a little bit of everywhere.


But guys have stepped up, and guys have developed in the secondary. So I think we've got a good functional team going into it and in a good spot health?wise.


Q. At this point over the past three years, you're just as familiar with game planning for Alabama as, say, Auburn or Tennessee is. Minkah Fitzpatrick, how does he affect games in a way that maybe the regular casual fan doesn't quite appreciate or understand so easily?

DABO: Well, he is a great football player. I'll tell you, first of all, he's a great young man. I have had an opportunity to be around him a couple of times, heard him speak yesterday morning at the FCA breakfast. Man, I think it's so important that you get to know these guys a little bit with their helmet off. Sometimes, as fans, he's number such and such; he's Number 29; he's this guy, whatever.


But, man, what a great young person he is. I got to see him at the ESPN award show. I guess he won the Thorpe award. Very deserving of that. I think it's important, first of all, for people to know that. This is a great young man that just happens to be a good football player. I'm very impressed with who he is as I've kind of learned a little bit about him.


But he's elite. I mean, it's kind of like a great wide?out and how he can impact the game because he's going to dictate coverage. He's going to dictate your ability to play man to man. He's going to dictate matchups and a lot of those type of things. That's what Minkah [Fitzpatrick] brings to the defensive side.


He's very versatile. He's played everywhere. He can go get "that" guy. He's a "that guy" DB. He can play corner. He can play safety. He can play nickel. He can blitz. If you go back and look at the Auburn game, he's the guy that got some pressure. He's just a very versatile player that they can use in a lot of ways, very instinctive, very smart, obviously very well?coached. And you can just tell that, when you compete against him, you better bring your A game. Because he's going to read every key that you give him.


That's what great DBs can do. They are going to know the splits. They're going to diagnose the play before it happens. He's got good ball skills. He's just a great competitor with a great skill set for the position. Got a lot of respect for him.


Q. You have a unique background with Alabama, obviously. You might be able to speak to this. Where do you think he is among Alabama defensive players all time?

DABO: I don't know how many Thorpe award winners ?? I know [Antonio] Langham won it.  Didn't Langham win the Thorpe award? Minkah is the only one? I thought Langham won it. He's pretty good. They've had a lot of good DBs come through Alabama. I'll let everybody else kind of figure out where he ranks. I mean, I've been gone since 2001. I've been out of Tuscaloosa. So there's been a lot of great ones come through there when I was there, before I was there, and a lot of great ones after I left. We've competed against some great ones, but there's only been two Thorpe award winners. So it's pretty special.


CUTrevor 2017-12-30 18:43:10

Q. Travis [Etienne] said he expected to redshirt coming into this year, and it wasn't until the fall where he maybe kind of thought he belongs. When did you guys start thinking this is a kid who can help us right away?

DABO: First week of practice. He's one of them couple practice guys, put the pads on. In shorts, right out of the gate, I was like, "Whoa. Now, let's put the pads on. Let's just see." Sometimes those guys will find the sideline when you get the pads on early when they're young. But, man, he took to it like a fish to water. I mean, it was immediate. In fact, I thought in camp, just pure running back. I was like, this guy is the best running back we got, just hand him the ball.

Now, he would get us killed if we had to play him because he didn't know anything about protection or anything like that, not a complete player. But hand him the ball and he was special and tough, physical.

So I knew literally the first few days of camp    because you don't know as a coach. You really don't. I know people get caught up in recruiting and they just say, "Oh, this guy is going to go play" and "This guy is going to redshirt." I never do that. Because, sometimes in coaching, you may think a guy is definitely going to play; and then he gets there and you're like, he can't play. He's just physically or mentally not where he needs to be. 

Sometimes you get a guy and you're like, well, he's definitely going to redshirt. And he gets there and you go, "Holy cow, this kid, man, he's like that. He gets it. He's smart. He's instinctive." It's just quick translation here. 

So you never know until you start coaching a guy. But it was literally the first couple of days, I said "This guy is going to help us." We're going to have to groom him. He played in an option veer type of offense. So he hadn't been around much pass protection and route running and some of the things that we were doing. 

But he was well coached in high school.

I saw his coach, Coach [Rusty] Phelps, yesterday, just tough, little, small town, Jennings, Louisiana. He came in with a mindset ready to work. That's what I love about him, unbelievable work ethic. And a very humble kid, just kind of got in the back of the line, very respectful to his teammates and especially those veteran guys. Just put his head down and went to work. Tony [Elliott] has done a great job with him and just bringing him along.

And now he's not a freshman anymore. He's played 13 games. And he's not what he's going to be, but he's a pretty complete player at this stage and a guy that's going to have to play well for us to have a chance to win Monday night. 

Q. I can't remember as you were answering the question about Jeremy Pruitt. Do you have any good stories about Jeremy as a player, as a young coach? 

DABO: Not really. I mean, I was around him, like, two years there at Tuscaloosa. But just a very smart player, tough guy and an excellent young coach. When I was around, you could just tell he's got a bright future.

Most of my experience with Jeremy [Pruitt] was when he was at Hoover High School. I used to go by there all the time. Coaching is coaching. It doesn't matter if you're coaching high school ball or coaching college ball, you can just tell this guy is a great football coach and got a great mind for the game.

Q. Do you ever stop and think about both you guys grew up in Alabama, were walk ons to Alabama, and it's gotten to the point where you're both head coaches now and had some success?

DABO: I hadn't really stopped and thought about it very often, but I think it's great. It's great when you see people who have worked hard to get to where they want to go in life. And I think Jeremy [Pruitt] is an example of that.

Q. What does it say about the level of consistency Nick [Saban]'s achieved in Tuscaloosa that you played on the last Alabama team that surprised people by winning a championship game?

DABO: Yeah. We were at least a 12  or 13 point underdog, I think, coming into that game. And y'all remember we had to go play another game in this thing called the SEC championship. Everybody is like what the heck are we doing? Miami is chilling at the house, and we got to go play another game against Coach [Urban] Meyers. It's getting pretty good. 

So I think it's just a testament. I think, when he came there, I know they didn't have a great first year. But he put a foundation in place and his process in place. And their level of consistency is amazing. It really is. And that's how Alabama is supposed to be. I think he's done a great job, obviously. And he's brought stability, continuity, consistency. I know that, as somebody alluded to over here, they've had some change at coordinators. But, at the end of the day, the head coach is going to set the philosophy of the program. I don't care who comes in and out the door. Head coach is going to dictate who's there and, again, what the philosophies are that are in place. And everything else will flow from there.

So it all starts with him. So he's done an amazing job of recruiting, being able to promote and sell the brand of Alabama football.

From the outside looking in and what we've tried to do with our program, we've tried to become a very consistent program as well. I mean, they're favored for a reason. There's very few    I don't know how many times they haven't been favored to win a ball game. So they've earned that.

Q. The team you're going to be playing on Monday, they were sitting in the corner there side by side, quiet and waiting for this whole thing to end. And then they walked off the field. You guys are around here having fun. It looks like you might get set up to get punked here in a little bit. Why is there this sort of fun vibe? Why has it worked for you? And why is it the right fit for you and your program?

DABO: I mean, I don't know. Like I said, I don't know how other people run their program. I don't try to emulate anybody. Again, I just coach the team like I coached my wide outs for years. That's really all I do. I coached my coaches that way. I enjoy my players. I enjoy spending time with them and having good relationships with them. Our guys all know, when it's time to work, it's time to work.

They can all tell you, Coach [Dabo] Swinney, I got a couple hats. But, at the same time, I love them. I care about them. And I coach them like I coach my son. I got a son on the team. And I don't want them to leave here and not enjoy their experience. Like I said the other day, you don't have to be miserable and walk around like you're mad at the world to get ready to play a football game. Maybe that's how some people do it, but that's not who we are. 

We're going to play hard. We're going to do our best. And, if you get beat, you get beat. It ain't going to be because we didn't prepare well or show up with the right mindset. If we get beat, hey, the other team is just better than us. It's not going to be because our guys had fun at a press conference or whatever. I don't buy into that mess.

Q. You had your pick of practice locations and decided to practice at Tulane out in the cold as opposed to here in the warm confines of the [Mercedes Benz] Superdome. Just curious what went into that decision. 

DABO: Well, 25 years ago when I was here, that's where we practiced. They told me I had a chance to go practice at Tulane. I said, "That's where we're going to practice." Because I thought it was a good setup. This is a big place. This is a huge place. And I just felt like we could have a little bit more focus, a little smaller environment. And it's been great.

The weather has been awesome. I mean, hey, it's been beautiful out there. We're going to come in here. We're going to work out here. Our Friday game prep will be in here. So they'll get a chance. And we did send our kickers over here one day. They came over here one morning and did some kicking. 

But I just wanted to have a little cozier environment than coming in here and them spending all their time looking around at the color of the seats or whatever. I wanted to eliminate all that.

Q. I think you've said something along the lines of, to your players, for quite some years "Let's go ahead and change the narrative of college football," or at least how Clemson fits into that narrative. Have you thought at all, as you go into this game on the back of a national championship, that this might be one of those wins that officially does that, changes the way Clemson is viewed, maybe even changes the way Alabama is viewed nationally? 

DABO: Well, I think we've already done that. I think that narrative has been changed. This is our third playoff in a row. We've won the national championship. So none of y'all can say we can't do anything anymore. I think that was the biggest thing about last year was just validation. Because we had done everything. I mean, we've won 61 games, Alabama has won 62 in the last five years. So I don't know what else these guys have to do to change the narrative.

I think they're writing their own script. And Alabama is going to be Alabama regardless of what happens in this game. Alabama ain't going away, I promise you. They will be right back here next year. 

Our focus has always been making Clemson a school that, year in and year out, is in the mix and has a chance. And this program has already done that. And I think, again, that's what last year did. Because we've won multiple ACC championships, won a bunch of big games, but we hadn't won the national championship.

And I think last year it was kind of the one thing we hadn't done. And so the people can't discount you. And so I think, for us, everything we've done once over the last nine years we've done again. We've won 10 games for the first time in '11. Now we've had seven years of that. We've won the ACC for the first time in '11 in 20 years. Now we've won it four times, played for it five times.  Now we've won several divisions. Now we've won a national championship. 

And so I think, in order to do something again, you got to do it once. So, for us, our focus is just writing our own script at Clemson and trying to just do something that's never been done and never been done at Clemson and maybe never been done in college football.

So, in order to do that, man, we just got to be great today and then just keep learning, keep growing from every experience that we have. But we don't really spend a lot of time sitting there thinking about how it might change something for Alabama or whatever. Ain't nothing going to change for Alabama. We're not concerned about that.

Q. You guys are headed to the hospital next. What do you hope the players and the patients get out of that visit?

DABO: Well, I hope that we can just put some smiles on these patients' faces and bring a little cheer, a little joy, help them to maybe escape their situation for a little while, number one.  And then, hopefully, for our players an opportunity for them. I think it's important to always have great perspective. 

We're so fortunate to be able to    I mean, are you kidding me? We're in New Orleans, and we're getting a chance to do what we do and compete and have the experiences that we have. These are young, healthy, strong guys that get to do a lot of great stuff.

And so perspective. To remember that every day is a blessing, and there's somebody every day literally praying for what we take for granted, whether it's to be able to get up out of a chair, take another breath, whatever it may be, walk down a hall, much less have the ability to go play football and run and jump. 

And so, you know, just perspective. And, again, hopefully, some joy for the people there.

Q. Playing a little game, the Davis decision. Can you differentiate?

DABO: Now, they've changed their numbers trying to trick me. Because I know J.D. [Davis] is 33. It rhymes. But Judah [Davis]    see, he's messed up. Because Judah has let his beard grow out, and J.D. has shaved his beard. Now, when they're beside each other, Judah's got a bigger head. All right? He's a little  chunkier, but yet the better looking twin. So it's taken me a while to figure that out. But, man, y'all got to get up earlier. Y'all ain't going to fool me with that.

Q. Is there a little bit of Alabama fatigue with y'all, just three straight years, a lot of the same questions? Do you get tired of kind of the same things?

DABO: "Alabama fatigue," that's a good one (laughs). Man, heck no. It's awesome to compete against the best. It's a chance to compete against the best of the best. And that's what we got. If you're going to win a championship, you're probably going to have to play Alabama, whether it's one, two, three, four, whatever it is. So there's no fatigue. We just embrace the moment, embrace the opportunity that's in front of us. And we're excited about it.

Q. What about Number 16? And what's the best part and worst part about being a coach's son? 

DABO: Well, you probably have to ask Will [Swinney] that. Because I've never been a coach's son. I would say maybe the best part is you get to do some cool stuff with your dad, I guess. I mean, he's grown up. This has been his life. He's been at bowl games his whole life. I remember at the Orange Bowl in 1999. He's standing there with    what do they call that orange? Obie? What do they call that orange? I can't remember what they call the orange. But the orange, the guy that dresses up as the orange. And he's, like, 2. It's an amazing experience. Tom Brady beat us in that game, by the way, in overtime.

But, anyway, watching my children    and then Drew [Swinney] was born and was watching them every year. Will [Swinney]'s first Christmas was at the Music City Bowl in a hotel. And we had a little tree. It's like "Merry Christmas, son." Literally, his first Christmas. He was born in August of '98. And so I think the best part is those unique experiences that a child of a coach gets and how he's grown up and he's had a chance to know the players.

You know, I almost got out of coaching in, like, 2005 or '6. They were little. And they were playing ball. And I was gone all the time. And I remember being down in Florida, calling home. And Will [Swinney] had just hit a home run and Drew [Swinney] was doing this and Clay [Swinney] was crying and Kath [Swinney] is going "Ahh." And I'm down gone for, like, four weeks. 

And I was missing    I just had this moment of, you know what? Man, I just felt like I was sacrificing my family. And I just  told Kath [Swinney], I said, "Kath, I can't do this anymore." And I came home. So we had this family meeting. And I got Will, Drew, and Clay sitting on the bed, feet just kind of hanging over the bed. And they're just looking at me. And Will was probably, I don't know, 7 or 8. And I just told them, "Listen, I just want y'all to know, y'all are the most important thing in the world to me. I love y'all, And your dad can do a lot of things. And I'm going to get out of coaching, and I'm going to get a job where I can coach your teams and be home on the weekend. And I just don't want to miss this opportunity to be a great dad."

And, you know, they're looking at me like (demonstrating.) When I got done with my big speech    I had this big speech ready    they look at me and go, "But, Daddy, if you're not a coach, we won't get to know the players and we don't get to ride the bus." 

And all of a sudden God used my kids to speak to me and impact me literally. And all of a sudden my kids start opening my eyes to all the things    I was focused on the things that we didn't get to do. God used my kids to get me to focus on the things that we do get to do and that they got to do.  And a whole different lens and perspective that I didn't have. I was just focused on what I was missing out on and this and that. 

So that was a life changing moment for me. It really was. So through these boys' mouths and their experiences that they had had, they started telling me, "Dad, we love you being a coach. And mom videos anyway. She videos it." She's a terrible videoer, by the way.

And so, you know, that was an impactful time for me. And from that point on, I said, you know what? I just    golly, I got to change my perspective here. Because I love what I do, but I just  didn't want to sacrifice    and I realized, you know what? You can be a great coach and be a great father and be a great husband. You can be all those things. You don't have to sacrifice all those things to be a great coach. 

And so that's just how I've tried to go about my business. So I've tried to teach that to my staff and all my coaches and my young staff. And I've tried to set that example for them. This is very inclusive at Clemson. I want the wives there. I want the kids there. I mean, it's a Romper Room every other day running around there, because I think it's important. I want these coaches to know. I want them to go to the games. We don't meet before 9:00. I want them to take their kids to school. We got plenty of time to get done what we need to get done. 

But, at the end of the day, you only get to be a father one time.

So I think the best part is the experience, all those things that they get to do that people don't get to see, police escorts with the bus, getting to know these players as people, coming to practice. 

The worst part is probably the negativity. You got to have some thick skin. That's obviously a part of it, too, and conversations that I had to have when they were in the 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade. Kids can be mean. And then social media starts coming on the scene. And now everybody has an opportunity to say whatever they want to say whenever they want to say it however they want to say it. And that can be tough for young kids. So that's probably the biggest    the toughest part, people judging them maybe because of maybe who their dad is. But the good far outweighs the bad. 

CUTrevor 2017-12-30 18:48:40

I'll update this with transcripts for you later tonight, guys. We will have the coaches press conference with Dabo and Nick Saban bright and early at 8:30 tomorrow morning, 9:30 ET. Stay tuned!