Standing in the muck, the rain and the eye of an emotional storm after his team’s win over Notre Dame, coach Dabo Swinney blew life into an acronym that’s gone viral and should be visible this week on T-shirts around the Clemson campus.
BYOG – “Bring your own guts” – jumped from Swinney’s mouth, his voice rising, during a postgame interview with ESPN reporter Heather Cox, describing the gritty, last-ditch defensive effort that kept Notre Dame from pushing the game into overtime.
Swinney said he the told the team, “We give you scholarships. We give you stipends and meals and a place to live. We give you nice uniforms. I can’t give you guts and I can’t give you heart.
“And tonight it was BYOG. Bring your own guts.”
Swinney said Tuesday it “just came into my head” during the interview, thinking of the loyal fans that stayed through the steady downpour until the end. ESPN inadvertently clipped 12 seconds of the interview, yet within minutes the Twitter universe popped. Swinney said many of his friends sent him messages Sunday with #BYOG.
The video has been picked up by most major media outlets. One USA Today reporter named it one of sport’s all-time great post-game interviews.
The reaction seemed “weird,” Swinney said. “I’m not that interesting … ask my wife.”
But the sentiment seemed to summarize his feelings about this team four games into what’s setting up to become an interesting season.
Ranked sixth in the polls this week, Clemson faces Georgia Tech on Saturday and Swinney is eager to give folks a show.
“We haven’t come close to playing our best game, our best football,” he said during his weekly media briefing.
“We’ve shown we can do whatever we need to do to win,” he said . “Our ability to run the ball through these first four games has been impressive, because that was the one question mark coming into the season.
“I am not concerned about our ability to throw and catch the football,” Swinney said. “That’s the best thing we do. We just haven’t had the opportunity yet to show our full potential. As we go through the season, that will show. We’ll flex those muscles.”
After leading by 18 points, he was disappointed that the team took its foot off Notre Dame’s throat.
“That was about as bad as I’ve seen us play defensively in the fourth quarter,” he said. “But to see us overcome and just keep fighting … that’s a great sign.”
That it happened, too, at Louisville could be disconcerting.
“We’ve got to put people away,” Swinney said. “Hopefully that’s where we can kind of grow up a little bit.”
In July before practice began Swinney was on the record that he “liked” the team’s makeup, talent and potential. Depth remains a concern on defense, but through four games with the conference schedule ahead and five teams ahead of them in the polls, he’s beginning to know this team.
“They haven’t quit. They haven’t flinched. They’ve just continued to play,” he said. “I think after four games that’s one thing we can kind of hang our hat on. These guys are serious about winning.”
Understanding the team probably won’t be perfect each week, Swinney said, “I like the heart. I like the guts.”
“We’re not a national championship team. And, guess what, we don’t have to be on October 6,” he said. “We have just got to be better than Georgia Tech this weekend.”
Who: Clemson (4-0, 1-0 ACC) vs. Georgia Tech (2-3, 0-2)
When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium
Line: Clemson by 6 1/2