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Giger: Arrogant Dabo gets what he deserved vs. OSU

Photo by Clemson Athletics: Dabo Swinney

The country loved watching Dabo Swinney get his rear end beaten. The arrogant, loudmouth coach — as he’s often perceived — finally wrote a check with his mouth that his talented Clemson football team couldn’t cash.

The whole thing is Coach Speak 101, and Dabo gloriously failed, much to the enjoyment of, well, EVERYONE who is not a Clemson fan. Just check social media to see how everyone is piling on the coach.

Let’s think about just how stupid it is what Dabo did.

He and his coaches surely have worked tirelessly, as call coaches do, putting in 16-hour days to make sure and put their football team in the best possible position to succeed.

The Clemson players worked their tails off, doing all the grunt work, sacrificing their personal lives and freedoms to keep playing during COVID and earning a trip back to the College Football Playoff.

Only to have their coach sabotage the whole damn thing over something insanely silly.

As Justin Fields and Ohio State destroyed Clemson in the national semifinal, 49-28, the country feasted on Dabo all night long. All because he decided to throw away his team’s entire season with a pathetically tone deaf and selfish moment of arrogance when he ranked Ohio State No. 11 in his coaches poll ballot.

Instead of just heaping praise on the upcoming opponent, as all coaches do, Dabo foolishly and hilariously chose to go this route.

He poked the bear at Ohio State, then got eaten by Ryan Day’s motivated team.

In the grand scheme of things, polls really shouldn’t matter all that much. Most college football fans have uttered those words at some point in their lives.

But here’s the thing: Polls DO MATTER, because at the end of the day, sports in general and football in particular are all about respect. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, will fire up a player or team more than the feeling of being disrespected — by anyone.

It doesn’t even matter if they truly and actually were disrespected. It only matters if they FEEL disrespected.

I address that further in response to the comment in this tweet:

The Buckeyes obviously felt disrespected, then they did something about it by opening up a can of whoop ass on Clemson.

Dabo Swinney knows this all too well. He has played the disrespect card on numerous occasions with his own Clemson program, which despite its great success in recent years has often been overshadowed to a degree because it plays in a weak ACC. Here’s a good example from just last season:

Once again, Swinney is using perceived slights against his team to provide fuel for his team entering the postseason.

“Everybody loves a challenge, or at least we love one here,” Swinney said. “You’re always looking for little things along the way…free fuel, man. When you’re going across country, man, free fuel is good. Gas costs a lot of money. So when you can get free fuel, it’s always good.”

For this coach in particular to foolishly overlook the impact of him disrespecting Ohio State by ranking this outstanding Buckeyes team at No. 11 will leave Dabo as the poster child for idiotic bulletin board material going into a big game.

Swinney felt that because Ohio State played only six games, it didn’t deserve to be ranked any higher than a whole bunch of teams that played many more games.

That is pure ignorance.

And yet, here is Dabo after the game, doubling down on his poll ranking and saying he has no regrets.

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This is a football coach, and his job in the coaches poll is to try and rank the teams in order of how good they are, or how good he believes them to be. If Dabo truly believes Ohio State was only the 11th best team, then fine. He’s so terribly wrong, but fine.

No, Dabo did all this to make a statement. He wanted to knock the Big Ten for its decision to delay football, and he wanted to slight Ohio State for doing nothing wrong on its own because it was only able to play six games.

He arrogantly believed he could do all of that, and that it wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass.

He was wrong.

Dead wrong.

And you know what, it sure would be awesome if Dabo would come out and say just that: “I was wrong. I made a mistake. I should not have voted Ohio State No. 11.”

But these college coaches in general — kings of their institutions because of their money and power — usually cannot say those words “I was wrong” because their egos simply will not allow it.

Dabo Swinney, in particular, is as arrogant as they come in college football, and sure, maybe he’s earned the right to be with what he’s done at Clemson. Good for him for all of his success.

But with great success comes great responsibility — and part of that responsibility and leadership is to stand up and admit when you’ve made a mistake.

Dabo made a big mistake giving Ohio State plenty of “free fuel,” and the Buckeyes used it to blow up the Tigers.

People are having a field day poking fun at Swinney. Here’s a sample of some of the reaction on Twitter, starting with none other than LeBron James:

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Written By

Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.



  1. Dennis Seiler

    January 2, 2021 at 10:46 am

    I am neither a Clemson fan nor a Clemson hater so I have no axe to grind. If we are honest we must point out that the Big Ten was not the most competitive conference in the nation this season. I think it is always a mistake for a coach to step into the arena of ranking other teams – especially the ones you might face in future weeks. I did not watch any of the game nor the post game press conference but from reading the response from coach Swinney, I read the statements of a coach who graciously gave much credit to the team, who, in his words, was the better team. So, in all honesty, your article comes off as more arrogant than the fact that he had ranked OSU #11. Since I have read your other articles and have not seen an arrogant tone, I am not saying that you are arrogant but if this were the only input I had I could take it that way. If we give coach Swinney a similar benefit at look at his post game comments – we would conclude: 1. His ranking was obviously incorrect. 2. His decision to state it was probably unwise. 3. His post game comments were appropriately gracious.

    • Cory Giger

      January 2, 2021 at 10:58 am

      Appreciate the thoughtful response. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m not being arrogant with this, just pointing out his costly mistake and that for him of all people to not understand the value of playing the disrespect card is nonsense since he does it all the time.

      • Dennis Seiler

        January 2, 2021 at 11:11 am

        I hope you do not think I was accusing you of being arrogant. I don’t think you were. I agree that it was a costly mistake on his part. Regardless of how much coaches say, “rankings don’t matter.” they know quite well that rankings are great motivators of players. I haven’t followed coach Swinney enough to know of his common traits but just that the post game stuff showed humility. Thanks for your reply and your consistently good sports writing. Now, hopefully you will be able to write an article about another NCAA Wrestling Championship for PSU this year. I’m not sure that’s a reasonable expectation but I wouldn’t write off a Sanderson coached team.

  2. Eric Reinke

    January 2, 2021 at 11:40 am

    I don’t know how much being disrespected by a blowhard like Dabo (speaking of disrespect, nice name; thanks mom and dad) has to do with this result. That kind of thing may fire you up early in the game, but over the course of 60 minutes, the more talented and better prepared team usually wins. This was a lesser Clemson team throughout the season and we never really knew what Ohio St had, they played so few games. I hate to say it but Ohio St. is just a better team than Clemson.

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