Dabo Swinney: ‘We’re Little Ole Clemson’ Still

Many times over the years, Dabo Swinney has referred to his program as “Little Ole Clemson.” Some may look at the successes of the program and think that’s no longer the case, but to the Tigers head coach, no amount of success can change that. 

The program has indeed reached new heights under his guidance, but Swinney maintains that is still in fact, exactly what Clemson is. And he’s always known that despite the small size of the community, they had everything they needed to succeed at a high level.

“It’s something I used to talk to the team about all the time years ago when I got the job,” Swinney said. “I’d say we’re little ole Clemson, but we’ve got everything we need to compete at the highest level. We’re going to build a big program, and we’ve been able to do that.”

While the Clemson area may not be able to offer recruits the same kind of things some of the schools in larger markets can, Swinney has proven they have enough to compete with any school in the nation, and that the atmosphere on game days is second to none. 

“It’s just a small town,” Swinney said. “A small college atmosphere, but yet you’ve got this 80-plus-thousand seat stadium and 150,000 people roll into the town on the weekends. It’s incredible.”

However, there are only seven home games per year, and outside of those seven weekends, Clemson is just like most other small college town spread out across the southeast. 

“But then they all leave,” Swinney said. “Monday through Friday, we kind of have our own world. It’s just a small. We have one of everything, two of a few things. We’ve got a Starbucks, you know? We’ve got a Walmart, a Publix. We have about one of everything.”

There are some casual college football fans that have tired of hearing Swinney still referring to his program as “Little Ole Clemson.” While the program has risen to the top of the college football hierarchy, that doesn’t change what the school is at its core.

“I’ve been saying that for a long time,” Swinney said. “Because we are little ole Clemson. If you’ve been to Clemson, we’ve only got about 14,000 people in our population there, and, I don’t know, about 20,000 students maybe. So it’s probably the biggest stadium per capita in the country for the city that it’s in. It’s just little ole Clemson.”

Growing up in Pelham, Alabama, the small-town life is something Swinney was long accustomed to before coming to Clemson, along with the nuances that come along with it. To him, it will always be “Little Ole Clemson.”

“So there’s just a simplicity there that’s unique,” Swinney said. “I think there’s a quality of life in Clemson that’s really special. So we’re just little ole Clemson. We’ve been that way for a long time.”

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