Dabo Swinney intends to host a pizza party Sunday in Death Valley for thousands of the Clemson football team’s closest friends.
“Regardless of whether we win or lose, this team deserves to be celebrated. It really does,” Swinney said Tuesday.
Top-ranked Clemson plays North Carolina for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. If Clemson wins, the party will begin at noon in conjunction with the announcement on ESPN of the College Football Playoff pairings.
Stadium concession stands will be opened and free Papa John’s Pizza will be served.
“We’re going to have a deejay, and we’re going to have a heck of a time,” Swinney said. “We’re going to celebrate this team and celebrate our next destination in the postseason.”
Should North Carolina win, Clemson will receive an invitation to one of the six New Year’s Day bowl games. The party would be delayed until 3 p.m. when those pairings are announced.
“Whether we win the game or lose the game, it’s not going to make me feel any less or any better about this football team,” he said. “This team right here is special, and it’s been great to be a part of it. I know we’re going to go play our best four quarters of the season Saturday night, and, hopefully, that’s good enough to win.
“Regardless of the outcome, there’s going to be a celebration on Sunday.”
Stadium gates will open one hour before the show – 11 a.m. or 2 p.m.
The idea sprung from Swinney’s response to a question the week before the Florida State game when asked where he thought Clemson would be ranked in the first CFP Top 25.
“The only poll that we’re excited about is Dec. 6, and I promise you we’ll have the biggest poll party you’ve ever seen,” he said that day. “We’ll open up Death Valley and serve pizza to everybody.”
Perfect Delivery of Greenville owns Papa John’s stores in Anderson, Clemson, Easley, Greenville and Seneca and will provide the pizza. Papa John’s International is sending an 18-wheeler with ovens to heat pepperoni and cheese pizzas on site.
Because the Clemson men’s basketball team plays later Sunday in Greenville, buses will be available to transport students to the game.
“Papa John’s has stepped up big time and they’re all in,” Swinney said. “Everybody’s going to get some pizza.”