Before playing Pitt for ACC title, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney takes aim at critics |
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Jerry DiPaola
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney gathers in the middle of the field after the game against South Carolina Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Clemson, S.C. Clemson won 56-35.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney had more on his mind than Pitt when he spoke with reporters Sunday on a conference call previewing the ACC Championship.

Apparently, winning three consecutive ACC titles and following up with a 12-0 record and a No. 2 national ranking this season isn’t enough for some Clemson fans.

He said this season was not just a great season, “but an historic season. A lot of first-time-evers.”

Clemson set school records for winning seven consecutive games by 20 or more points and scoring at least 27 points in every game.

On Saturday night, Clemson defeated in-state rival South Carolina, 56-35, in what Swinney described as his team’s best performance on offense and worst on defense.

But he wasn’t making any apologies for it.

“(Saturday) night was a night the defense needed our offense and we played our worst game defensively and still won,” he said “I think that speaks to the strength of our team.

“Nobody’s happy about how we played defensively, outside the fact we had two goal-line stands, a turnover and three sacks. It’s just not anywhere near our standard around here. The bad news is we played bad defense. The good news is we’re better than that.”

That logical explanation from a coach who won a national championship two years ago apparently didn’t quell some critics.

“At the end of the day, I’ve been a part of this thing for 16 years,” he said. “I just want to win by one more point. If that ever gets to where that’s not enough, then it’s time for me to move on somewhere else.

“I ain’t never going to apologize for a 21-point win over a state rival, ever. You people who suggest that it felt like a loss, y’all need to check yourself, too. For all those people out there that want to complain about … winning by three touchdowns, man, that’s shameful. That’s a lack of respect for our program and a lack of respect for the effort that these players and coaches put in.”

Then, he paused and added, “I hope you write that.

“12-0 football team. A senior class that’s won 52 games. We got people complaining. Give me a break. If 12-0 ain’t good enough, it’s time to seek other places.”

He didn’t specify who should do the seeking or where other places might be, but he emphatically added, ”Make sure you get that.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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