Dabo Swinney has taken his share of shots at South Carolina over the past several years, but he had nothing but praise for the Gamecocks following his team’s 37-32 win in Columbia on Saturday.
The Tigers’ coach said he was very impressed by the way USC played hard for four quarters despite knowing its season would be over following the game.
“They played with a ton of heart. They played with a lot of passion. They didn’t quit,” Swinney said. “All the way to the last second, literally, they competed. I have great respect for that. I really do.”
Swinney was particularly impressed with USC interim head coach Shawn Elliott’s ability to have his team ready to play. The Gamecocks were coming off a loss to The Citadel, and the players, who at one point were playing to try to earn Elliott the job, were aware entering Saturday’s game he would most likely not be USC’s next full-time head coach.
“I told Shawn after the game, I think that’s a real credit to him and his staff that those guys competed like that,” Swinney said. “Their season’s over today, and to see them compete like they competed, I think that’s a reflection of the character of their coaches. I really believe that. I think the players are a reflection of those who are coaching them.”
Swinney was the interim head coach at Clemson before being hired to run the Tigers’ program full time following the 2008 season. He is well aware of the challenges Elliott and South Carolina’s staff faced after Steve Spurrier resigned.
“I tried to tell all of them before the game, we all get caught up in a rivalry and winning and losing and all that type of stuff, but this is a profession. You’ve got people that don’t have jobs and people that are having a lot of anxiety,” said Swinney. “The transition with kids and things like that, that’s a difficult thing to be a part of. This is a great job and a bad business. That’s just the way it is.”