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Dabo Swinney

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney during a time out in the South Carolina game, after which he expressed displeasure at some fans’ assessment that the win over the Gamecocks felt like a loss because of the number of points scored against the Clemson defense.

CLEMSON— Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney ruffled some feathers with the fan base and the media Sunday night following the Tigers 21-point victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks.

He implied that if winning a game by even one point is ever taken for granted, it may be time for him to move on.

Swinney: If winning gets old, time to exit

“At the end of the day I've been a part of this thing for 16 years, I just want to win by one more point,” Swinney said. “If that ever gets to where that's not enough, then it's time for me to move on somewhere else.”

Tuesday, he clarified his statements, saying that some of the grumblings, from a small portion of the fans, had reached the ears of the players and he was just trying to protect the culture of the program.

"Our fans are amazing. 98 percent. There is always a small percentage of something where they're completely out of touch with reality,” Swinney said. “Fans can have any mindset they want. But I don't want anything to creep into the culture of our program. I don't want our players to ever walk off a field and it feel like a loss. How sad is that? The objective is to win.

“The fun is in the winning. If it's not fun to win, that's a sad state of affairs. I'm miserable when we lose. I won't be miserable when we win. I hate to lose. I work too hard. But I understand that losing is a part of it. I don't care if you win 72-70 or 2-0. I guarantee you they were excited to win that game at A&M.”

Swinney continued to say that he understands the losing side of the game and also understands how much better a win feels the day after the game than a loss — which is why he says “the fun is in the winning.”

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“I know what losing feels like. Believe me, it's much better to win,” Swinney said. “I've never coached a perfect game. I've never seen a player play a perfect game. I don't want to be a part of anything where players don't appreciate winning and all of a sudden winning isn't enough in your culture. If you win by one point or 60 points, you're still 1-0. A win is a win. I've always felt that way. That's what Coach Stallings taught me.

“The fun is in the winning. I don't want to go into a locker room pouting because we won. To see them dancing in the locker room, that's what it's all about. To hear some chit-chat from players and see the things that gets pushed at them, that's sad. That mindset needs to be checked. That's the point I'm making.”

Saturday was needed for the defense?

The Tiger defense struggled for the first time this season in Saturday’s 56-35 win over the Gamecocks. But even in the midst of their worst defensive performance of the season, the Tigers still comfortably won the game and secured their fifth straight victory over their in-state rival.

But whether the defense’s poor performance was needed for a unit that had been one of the best in the nation is still up in the air.

"I don't know that it was needed. It happened,” Swinney said. “You have two choices. You can take cough syrup and own it and get better or you can sit around and make excuses. But that's not who we are. They had a rough night, but you know what, they've had a lot of great nights too. We also had two goal line stands, too. It's not all bad. We did do a few good things. That's obviously the worst game we've played defensively in quite awhile. You also don't want to disrespect the opponent. They played a heck of a game. If you beat us, you will have to have chunk plays. And they had some big plays. Give them credit. We played our worst game of the year defensively and still won by 21 points. It's a team game."

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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.

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