At the end of an injury update on freshman redshirt quarterback Kyle Parker, interim coach Dabo Swinney added he hopes Parker will be back in time for bowl practices.
“C’mon, you guys didn’t like that?” Swinney said after a moment’s pause.
Clemson needs to win all three of its remaining games – Saturday against Duke, next week at Virginia, then the regular-season finale at home vs. USC – in order to gain bowl eligibility.
Swinney, in his typically jovial manner, proceeded to relate the Tigers’ situation to the great exchange in “Dumb and Dumber” where Lloyd asks about the chances a guy like him ends up with Mary.
Mary: “Not good.” Lloyd: “You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?” Mary: “I’d say more like one out of a million” (Pause) Lloyd: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”
For the record, Swinney clearly has more confidence in his team than that.
The strange part is, I had made the same comparison earlier in the day when asked by someone what Swinney’s chances are now of having the interim tag removed and earning the Clemson head coach job full-time.
The last few years around Clemson, I’d estimate the No. 1 topic of conversation has been what Tommy Bowden’s record would have to be to retain his job.
My answer to that kind of question is typically standard: It’s not about the record. It’s about how the coach gets to that record.
It’s all about momentum.
I can’t vouch for exactly what AD Terry Don Phillips is thinking. But I am skeptical that the Tigers can now put together a strong enough finish after Saturday’s 41-27 loss at FSU for Swinney to be justified as the hire.
Let’s be clear: Phillips loves Swinney, and there’s a lot to like about how the manner in which he runs a program.
After profiling the types of guys Phillips prefers to hire, there seems little doubt Phillips views Swinney as perhaps another Mike Gundy – a vibrant, influential coach whose main drawback is his age and head-coaching experience.
Someone outside the program made a comparison I thought was pretty close – that Swinney is a young Mack Brown. Superb recruiter. Really good motivator. But his success will hinge on whom he brings in as coordinators, too.
The vibe before the FSU game was that if Swinney won three of the last four regular-season games, Swinney was the favorite to get the job.
Yes, that can still happen.
But truth be told, would wins over Duke and Virginia resonate enough with a fan base to justify bypassing a candidate with established national credibility?
Doubt it, even if Clemson managed to couple those two wins with a resounding rout of USC (to be fair, a little rivalry mortification does go a long way!).
I don’t think Swinney can put together a sexy enough resume from this point forward for him to be the pick over someone – whether an up-and-comer or a proven veteran – who offers a fresh voice and approach that charges the program heading into the offseason.
The writing appears penciled on the wall, just waiting to be traced over. But Swinney is too liked and respected for that to happen until season’s end.
Of course, Lloyd didn’t get the girl, either. But he was hilarious and engaging along the way.