To adapt a line from Ole Miss alum and Saints fan "Who-Dat Holly," I wish Dabo Swinney would have pretended to be a good head football coach for Halloween (instead of putting the Tom Bowden costume in Boston). What we saw against BC was the crap that got Bowden fired and, should it continue, will be what gets Swinney fired as well. I know that we said that Swinney deserved a fair shot and an extended (3-4 years) amount of time before being judged but that was assuming that Clemson would not have another 2009 Maryland experience. What we saw out of the staff in Boston, specifically from offensive strategy/execution and special teams execution was completely unacceptable. Clemson could get nothing going on offense and the Tigers could not capitalize when they moved the ball deep into the opponent's territory in a loss to a team that has a fraction of the overall talent on their roster that the Tigers have on theirs.
The general overview of the contest was that Clemson was crap all day especially on offense and place kicking the ball. Chandler Catanzaro missed field goals of 44 and 36 yards on the afternoon and CU turned the ball over three times. Two of the turnovers really hurt this football team as Boston College was able to score its lone touchdown following a Jamie Harper kickoff fumble and the ridiculously stupid jump ball that Kyle Parker threw with Clemson deep in Boston College territory.
We are committed to being consistent and try to be as fair and realistic as possible so I'll start by saying that Dabo Swinney is not the root of the problem. Dabo did not hire himself and does not make the general rules that the athletic department has to follow. Dabo did not hire nor did he give a ridiculous extension to nor did he fire his predecessor. That was all the AD/President/BOT who made and approved those decisions, many of which put us in our current scenario. That was Bobby Robinson/Terry Don Phillips, Jim Barker, and a board that appears to be scared of what a good football program would mean to the university's balance of power. These are the guys who decided to piss away millions of dollars on Bowden and these are the guys who decided to proceed on the cheap and promote a receivers coach to the football program's corner office.
All this being said, is Dabo ready to be a head football coach at the college level? To this point in his head coaching career one would definitely question his resume and the results we have seen so far this year. Yes Coach Swinney did lead this program to the ACCCG last season and yes there has been more excitement under Swinney than there was under Bowden. Swinney is a better motivator than his predecessor. There is no doubt that Swinney can relate to these young folks as shown through his excellent recruiting history (as an assistant and as head coach) and his ability to lure some folks (C.J. Spiller last season and Kyle Parker in 2010) away from big bucks in the pros and back to play another year in Death Valley.
The items that I feel Swinney needs to work on includes technical aspects of his job. Personally I was not too impressed with Swinney's last group of wide receivers and our receivers continue to drop passes week after week (yes, I know Jeff Scott is the WR's coach but would expect a former wide receiver and WR's coach who is the current head coach to be able to fix issues in this area). I also must question our strategy on offense. We don't seem to understand our strengths/weaknesses AND get cute when there is no need for such. Further, we suspect that Swinney meddles in the offense a good amount which, in turn eliminates rhythm and continuity throughout the game. You have an offensive coordinator for a reason, let him do his job.
Defensively Swinney excels and for very good reasons. Our defensive staff overall is pretty good. Kevin Steele is a good defensive coordinator who understands how to make adjustments. The big thing here is that Coach Swinney is not religiously dabbling in the defensive scheme throughout the football game AND allows his assistant coaches to do their respective jobs without intense intervention.
To put this in perspective just think about this...how many times at your job does a fellow employee attempt to "help" a situation and just end up creating confusion and more work for you to overcome the extra "help"? It is not as though your co-worker(s) are trying to sabotage the workplace nor are they attempting to make your life more difficult. This is just what happens when people are out of position and dabble in other folk's responsibilities. There should only be one chief and I am definitely not a fan of the play calling by-committee strategy, especially after the Bowden/O'Cain/Scott debacle half a decade ago.
We have placed a realistic goal of 10 wins per year in place for this football program. The possibility of winning 10 is off the table for this season barring some miraculous chain of events by our ACC Atlantic Division foes. Without 10 wins and with the talent and resources that we have, the season is a failure. I am also fearful that next season will be another struggling experience in terms of offensive line performance as we cannot seem to develop quality depth and have big turnover every 4 years, so it was critical that we take advantage of this experienced group while they are still at Clemson.
If you are not happy with what is going on at Clemson remember that there is but a small and elite group of people who are in a position to make widespread improvements here. These include Jim Barker and the Board of Trustees. TDP has some input also, so make your voices heard and demand improvement in our overall athletics programs. Our coaches (no matter what you think of them) are doing the best they can with what they have and, in many occasions, are being handicapped by the powers that be. As an athletic department (holistically) we need big changes if we are to ever be a serious threat in major college athletics.