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CLEMSON — “Best is the standard.”

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That phrase can be seen inside the Clemson Tigers’ indoor facility, the new football complex and the coaches’ offices. But while it may be simple for some, the phrase has a much deeper meaning for head coach Dabo Swinney.

"Sometimes people may take that the wrong way. You don't see win national championships up there. That's not our goal. Our goal is to be the best we can be,” Swinney said. “We want to be our best. Whatever God gave you, be the best you can possibly be. That applies in every area, whether it's the best coach you can be, the best player, whatever.

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“If you're a walk-on, commit to be the best you can be. You probably won't be a starter, but be the best you can be with what God gave you and you can live with whatever the results are. When you're trying to be THE best, that's comparing yourself to other people. We want to be the best Clemson can be. It's effort, preparation, work ethic, attitude -- all the things that you can control and relevant to you being your best. It's sleep, nutrition, what you do when no one is watching."

The phrase does not only include the football team. It is meant to include the team’s home for seven Saturdays each fall — Death Valley.

And Swinney has already been thinking.

“From a huge project standpoint, there are other things down the road,” Swinney said. “There are things I’d love to see happen in the stadium that I think would be great for Clemson football and some of the fans.”

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Those “other things” appear to be plans to enclose the east side of the stadium, similar to the current WestZone side of the stadium.

The WestZone, a dream of former head coach Tommy Bowden, was completed in two phases. The first phase, completed in 2009 after beginning in 2004, enclosed the west end zone while adding luxury boxes and club seating as well as new locker rooms for the football team.

The second phase began in 2011 and featured the oculus, the main entrance to the WestZone, a four-level museum and an expansion of the north concourse.

“I think they’ve done a nice job (on the stadium),” Swinney said “We revamped all the suites and the boxes and we created that whole SouthZone. That’s been great and so there’s been a lot of things to enhance the fan experience. The box opportunities, the WestZone has been phenomenal. I think some type of EastZone is probably going to come. When down the road, I don’t know. But I think you have to always be thinking toward those things.”

Until the time comes when the athletic department is ready to pull the trigger on an "EastZone" project, Swinney has his list ready.

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“There are things from a housing standpoint that I think are important that we address down the road,” Swinney said. “Always looking ahead and always paying attention down the road. You never arrive. If you arrive, you get passed by. We just want to continue to strive to get better to have consistency within our program.”

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io


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