Football Expectations High for Neff, but Appreciates Past

Last week, Graham Neff had a candid conversation with Clemson’s Board of Trustees when it came to the expectations of Dabo Swinney and the football program.

Swinney is one of the highest paid coaches in college football, making $10.5 million in 2022. The university’s athletic department made significant upgrades to Memorial Stadium and the Allen Reeves football complex last fall and there are more plans on the horizon.

Clemson is invested in football, and with that kind of investment comes high expectations.

As Swinney pointed out on National Signing Day last week, the Tigers have succeeded all expectations to this point. Since becoming head coach in 2009, Clemson has won two national championships, played for the national championship four times, played in six consecutive College Football Playoffs, won eight ACC Championships, recorded 12 straight 10-win seasons and the list goes on and on.

Clemson has become one of the elite programs in college football. Only Alabama has won more games since 2011, and Alabama is the only program to match the Tigers’ 12 consecutive 10-win seasons (the Crimson Tide has done it every year since 2008).

“The recognition and appreciation of what has been built is significant,” Neff said. “I know Coach has spoke on that a lot and I think it is important for us all to have that perspective. But the windshield mentality, which Coach talks about often. Gosh, he starts every team meeting, I can see the slide with the picture of the windshield and the rearview mirror.

“So, there is that balance or the excitement or the appreciation and the recognition of knowing where we have come and what Coach has built and always have perspective in that, but also know what is ahead. How we are investing in facilities, staff changes? The game continues to change from an industry standpoint with NIL, transfer portal and the windshield of what is next.”

Neff says that is where Swinney “has an awesome balance” of Clemson’s history, what he has built and what has to be done going forward to keep the Tigers at the top.

“The balance of those perspectives, looking in the rearview versus looking through the windshield is something that is always good,” Neff said. “To sit, have conversation and appreciate both ways you look.”   

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