Clemson sends wrong message by extending Dabo

col-reid-foster (2)I guess Clemson is content with playing second fiddle.

That’s all I could think upon reading the news of head coach Dabo Swinney’s new 8-year contract extension that will pay him close to $3.5 million annually, according to a report on www.clemsoninsider.com.

I spent the majority of my childhood in Myrtle Beach, and remember a time when the split between Clemson and South Carolina fans was truly 50-50, if not a slight lean towards Clemson. A recent poll, which I just can’t seem to find a link to, now shows that 57% of sports fans in Myrtle Beach support the Gamecocks, compared to just 25% for Clemson.

Considering South Carolina has defeated Clemson five straight times, that should come as no surprise.

Part of that is that South Carolina is a larger school and Steve Spurrier has done an excellent job in awakening the “sleeping giant.” But Dabo has to be held accountable, considering he’s been at the helm for every single one of those losses. In fact, the only time Swinney has ever defeated the Gamecocks came when he was an interim coach in the wake of Tommy Bowden’s firing.

This isn’t to say Dabo hasn’t done some great things. He’s consistently brought in very good recruiting classes and the Tigers have won 10+ games each of the past three seasons; a level of success not seen since Danny Ford was at the helm.

However, considering that the recent uptick in the program has coincided with the hiring of offensive mastermind Chad Morris to call plays, you have to wonder how responsible Dabo is for the success. Morris has been a hot name for head coaching vacancies and will take one of them in the near future. Clemson has ranked 9th and 11th nationally (out of 121 FBS schools) in yards per game the past two years, respectively. When the man leading them to that success leaves, what will the program become? I’m not so sure Tiger fans want to find out.

Dabo really doesn’t have that many great wins on the résumé as is, quite frankly. His best win came this year against Georgia, in a game that the Tigers asserted control during the two quarters that the Bulldogs were without their best player, Todd Gurley. Is there any doubt that UGA wins that game if Gurley, who shredded Clemson for 154 yards on just 12 carries, was able to play more than half of it?

The success of the past few years has conveniently coincided with the rest of the ACC Atlantic Division (save for FSU) suffering downswings, as well as cross-divisional rival Georgia Tech. Clemson was able to win 10 games this season without defeating a single ranked opponent, save for the aforementioned UGA game. In two games against ranked teams, the Tigers were outscored 82-31.

Speaking of ranked opponents, the past two seasons have proven that the Dabo Swinney-led Clemson Tigers cannot compete with the Jimbo Fisher-led Florida State Seminoles. And if they can’t win the division with Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd, the greatest quarterback in program history, when can they?
But Clemson has already shown their content with playing second fiddle in their own state, why should they feel any different about their conference?

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