Swinney 'Too blessed to be stressed'

CLEMSON, S.C. - Anyone who thought Dabo Swinney would be nerved-out and crazed with worry facing his last game at Clemson doesn't know much about the Tigers' interim coach.

"I'm too blessed to be stressed," Swinney said Tuesday. "I mean, this is not stress people, this is fun."

No matter how life-changing this week could be for Swinney.

A victory Saturday over archrival South Carolina (7-4) at Death Valley, Clemson's third in a row, would qualify the Tigers (6-5) for a bowl game - and make it near impossible for athletic director Terry Don Phillips to do anything but give Swinney the job fulltime.

If Swinney considers any of that, he sure hasn't shown it.

"Y'all know what the word 'stressed' is spelled backwards? Desserts," Swinney said with a big grin. "I just eat desserts. ... I went home last night and had some homemade chocolate chip cookies. I had a Kit Kat bar. So that's how you deal with stress: You take it, turn it around, have a few desserts and don't worry about it."

Swinney had been Clemson's receivers coach until Oct. 13, when he was elevated to the top by Phillips after Bowden resigned amid the Tigers' struggles.

Even though Phillips said then Swinney would be a candidate for Bowden's job after the season, it was hard to imagine the untested 38-year-old could have a legitimate chance.

Sure, Swinney had a growing reputation as a top-notch recruiter - he stole star runner C.J. Spiller away from Florida and Florida State - but no experience as a head coach or coordinator.

What he's done, though, the past six weeks to energize the program forced Clemson to notice.

The Tigers' sluggish offense has averaged a touchdown more per game the second half of the Atlantic Coast Conference season than it did under Bowden and fired offensive coordinator Rob Spence.

Plus Swinney has cemented cracks on the team that developed under Bowden and had threatened to plunge the program into continuing problems.

These days, Clemson has won three of its past four games and carries momentum the preseason ACC title pick was expected to have all year.

The Tigers say the reason is Swinney.

"He's energetic, enthusiastic. I think the players feel like he really has our best intentions at heart," quarterback Cullen Harper said. "That's what you want. You want to play for a guy who cares about you as a person."

Spiller says the Tigers know they could make Swinney's life so much easier with a victory. They don't want to think about what might happen with a loss.

"I care about it and I'm pretty sure the rest of my teammates do to," Spiller said. "At the same time, we know that we can't get caught up in that. We've got to execute to the best of our ability and have a great week of practice."

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier knows he'll face a jacked-up group of Tigers this week eager to play for Swinney.

"Yeah, he'll have them excited," Spurrier said. "He's been with his guys now for what, five games, six games, something like that. They sort of know what to expect from him."

To Swinney, these past six weeks were like when he was walk-on receiver at Alabama and got called over from the scout team field to the varsity.

"I kind of feel like a walk-on coach," Swinney said. "I just do the best I can do. I know every night that I laid my head down, I did everything that I can. I have zero regrets."

Swinney said Tuesday he had "no idea" about his job status.

"I just want to win this game this week," he said. "All that stuff, it'll all work itself out."

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