Listen: Dabo Swinney Goes Scorched Earth on Caller During Weekly Call-In Show (with transcript)

“You make $11.5 million a year. That’s second in college football if I’m not mistaken. I’m curious why that salary has led to a 4-4 record,” Tyler said. “…You’re humble, you’re hungry and everything, and I always told people, ‘Man, Dabo, just listen to his press conferences.’ But after that 2018 national title, something changed. There seems to be a lot of arrogance that came in. There’s a lot of friends and family. Three of the 10 on-the-field football coaches are external, experienced hires. Everyone else was an internal hire that had no experience before, or was a former player or friend. So I’m curious, why are we paying you $11.5 million to go 4-4? And it’s not just this year. It’s just been the refusal to accept.”

After roughly two minutes, Swinney cut him off.

“Hey Tyler, I’ve listened to enough of you,” Swinney said. “You can have all your opinions that you want. I don’t know how old you are. Don’t really care. But let me tell you something — We won 11 games last year. And you’re part of the problem, to be honest with you, because that is part of the problem. It’s people like you. The expectation is greater than the appreciation. And that’s the problem. 

“And so, you know, we’ve won 12 10-plus win seasons in a row. That’s happened three times in 150 years. So, if you want to know why, Clemson ain’t sniffed a national championship for 35 years. We’ve won two in seven years. And there’s only two other teams that can say that: Georgia and Alabama. Okay?

“Is this a bad year? Yeah. And that’s my responsibility. I take 100 percent responsibility for it. But all this bull crap, you’re thinking, all these narratives you read. Listen, man, you can have your opinion you want. And you can apply for the job. And good luck to you. 

“Alright, but to answer your question. Alright, we’re second-draft picks. We’ve graduated 98 percent of our guys. We’re second in wins. If you want to know why? Again I’m telling you, we’re not perfect. There’s a lot of teams — Frank Howard never had a bad year? Coach (Danny) Ford never had a bad year? Nobody? Coach K never had a bad year in basketball? People have a bad year. 

“But the part of the problem is the appreciation. I used to tell people all the time. They’d say, ‘What’s the difference in Clemson?’ Let me tell you. At some places, there’s an expectation, but at Clemson, there’s an appreciation. And what’s happened at Clemson is we’ve won so much that even when we used to be ‘the fun in the winning,’ now even when you win, people like you complain and criticize the coaches and question everything. People like you. When I hired Tony Elliott to be the offensive coordinator, who never called a play in his life. I’m sure you were critical then. Alright, and he took us to two national championships. People like you, who just love to destroy people with your comments. Alright. I’m sure you’ve never made any bad decisions. I’m sure you’ve lived a perfect life. I’m sure you’ve led a bunch of people. I’m sure you do your job.

“So to answer your question, I started as the lowest-paid coach in this frickin’ business. Alright, and I’m where I am because I’ve worked my ass off every single day. And I ain’t gotta let some smart-ass kid get on this phone and create this stuff. 

“So if you got a problem with it, I don’t care. Alright. I work for the board of trustees, the president, and the AD (athletic director). And if they’re tired of me leaving this program, all they gotta do is let me know. I’ll go somewhere else. Where there is an appreciation. Alright. It’s not just winning. It’s how you win. And we are in a bit — this is a tough year. But we’ve had 12, 12, 10-plus win seasons in a row. 12. We lost a Tennessee last year, they won 11 games for the first time in like 20 years. We’ve had eight 11-win seasons in 11 years or whatever. We’ve won two national championships. Clemson went 35 years (without a national championship). Alright, probably since before you were born. Your whole freakin’ life. And we’ve won two in seven years, and we earned it. And we beat the best of the best to do it. The best of the best.

“Twelve 10-plus win seasons, so if you want to know, that’s why. Am I perfect? No. I’m far from it. And I am a man of faith, absolutely. Alright. I’m 53 years old. And there ain’t one thing in my life —  I have been a part of failure many times — But there ain’t one thing in my life that I’ve ever failed at, Tyler. Never, alright. Ever. 

“I wanted to get an education. I got two degrees. I wanted to be the first college graduate in my family, I did it. I wanted to go play football at Alabama, I earned a scholarship. Lettered for three years, worked my ass off. Won a national championship. I wanted to get into coaching. I worked my way to being a head coach. And when I got this job, and I’m sure you didn’t want me to get this job, alright, and 15 years later, I’m still here. And I’d say the results are what they are and I stand on them. 

“So you don’t ever have to call back. I wanted to get married. I’ve been married for going on 30 years. I wanted to be a father. I’ve raised three great sons. If you don’t like how I run the program, don’t be a fan. I don’t care. But I’m the head coach, and I’m going to do what I believe is right for the long term of this program, what’s best for the players and what I think is the best for the moment. If you’ve got a problem with that, that’s fine.  I’m not gonna see you sit here and let you call. I don’t give a crap how much money I make. You ain’t gonna talk to me like I’m 12 years old. Gotta be freakin’ kidding me.”

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