COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A frustrated Dabo Swinney defended his Clemson career to a radio caller who questioned his performance as one of college football’s highest-paid coaches.
The exchange took place Monday night during Swinney’s weekly, in-season call-in show when someone identified only as “Tyler in Spartanburg” asked why Swinney is being paid so much to go 4-4 this season.
“You’re part of the problem,” Swinney told him. “To be honest with you, because that is part of the problem, it’s people like you. … The appreciation, the expectation is greater than the appreciation and that’s the problem.”
“Is this a bad year? Yeah, and it’s my responsibility. Take 100% responsibility for it,” Swinney continued. “But all this bull crap you’re thinking, all these narratives you read. Listen, man, you can have your opinion all you want, and you can apply for the job. And good luck to you.”
Asked about the exchange on Tuesday, Swinney said, “I had some idiot go Old Testament on me and he got an Old Testament response.”
Later on, Swinney softened, saying: “I’m sure Tyler is a great guy and he just had a bad day. We all have bad days.”
Swinney, who turns 54 in November, is in the second year of a $115 million, 10-year contract received in September 2022 that ties him to Clemson through the 2031 season. The Tigers entered the season as favorites to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title after winning their eighth since 2011 under Swinney.
His teams also won national titles after the 2016 and 2018 seasons.
Two weeks ago, Swinney discussed the expectations placed on his team by fans when the Tigers were 4-2.
“We are at a point now where if you don’t go undefeated, ‘you are losers and you’re terrible’ and that is just such a terrible mindset,” Swinney said then. “And honestly, maybe we need to lose a few games and lighten up the bandwagon, sometimes the bandwagon can get a little too full.”
Swinney clarified those comments a day later by saying that 98.5% of Clemson fans are “amazing.”
“But we got 1 1/2 % that they’re with you win or win,” he said.
Clemson went on to lose its next two games at Miami, 28-20 in overtime on Oct. 21 and at North Carolina State, 24-17, last weekend.
On Tuesday, Swinney again defended his program and its accomplishments, like the 12 consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins that was the third-longest such run in college football history. That has come to an end this year, even if the Tigers qualify for a bowl game.
Swinney compared his team to a healthy tree that’s produced plenty of fruit through the years but still requires pruning to continue flourishing. “That’s what we’ll do,” he said. “That’s kind of where we are. Sometimes things happen that you can’t explain.”
It’s the first time Clemson has lost four games in a season since 2010, when it went 6-7 in Swinney’s second full season.
The Tigers face No. 12 Notre Dame (7-2) on Saturday at Death Valley.
Clemson athletic spokesman Jeff Kallin said Swinney and athletic director Graham Neff regularly talk and he thought that the radio comments would come up.
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