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November 30, 2008

Swinney makes case at Clemson

CLEMSON - It was a surreal moment if there ever was one. The faithful at Death Valley chanted interim coach Dabo Swinney's name 'Dabo, Dabo, Dabo' in the waning moments of Clemson's 31-14 romp of rival South Carolina on Saturday.

The Tiger fan base made its recommendation for who they want as the next head coach, loud and clear.

"Just hearing 85,000 people chant his name means he deserves the job," team captain Michael Hamlin said. "I think he gets the job. I think he'll get hired on the spot. He has a bright future."

The unison of fans into 'One Clemson' didn't surprise the team's most explosive player.

"Clemson loves Coach Swinney," C.J. Spiller offered. "I knew they were going to do it. Coach Swinney has done a lot for this program and the fans love him. They showed their respect to him."

The former receivers coach inherited the team in early October after Tommy Bowden resigned under pressure following a 3-3 start. The collection was littered with dysfunction, disarray and selfishness.

The 39-year old repaired a lot of those issues in near record time.

"Coach Swinney did a good job of getting us to believe," Spiller said. "Everything starts with the thinking process. You see a team that was having fun."

Enough to merit the full-time position?

"From a personal standpoint, I think he has," Spiller admitted. "But I'm not the administration that makes those calls. We'll just sit around and see what happens."

He's not the only backer.

"Yes sir, he pulled us all together through adversity," the team's top cover-corner, Chris Chancellor, added. "Many people could've quit. But the coaches and the players pulled together. We kept at it. Coach Dabo, he's a great coach. I hope he gets the job."

The former Alabama walk-on crafted Aaron Kelly into an All-ACC receiver. The school and conference's all-time leader in receptions has his former position coach's back all the way.

"As far as turning this team around and keeping this team together, he's done that," Kelly said. "I think he's proven himself. I definitely think he deserves an opportunity. I would be shocked if he wasn't (the next coach)."

The support also stems from a fellow Yellowhammer State native.

"That's big, man," Brandon Maye, the middle linebacker out of Mobile (Ala.), said. "I think he's the right man for the job"

Swinney, a two-time Top 25 national recruiter of the year winner by Rivals.com, could certainly jack up the program in that department.

The Tigers' 2009 recruiting class once held a No. 9 ranking according to Rivals.com. The 12-man class has dwindled to eight in recent weeks, and is currently outside of the top 35.

"He's a wonderful recruiter," Spiller pointed out. "He's straight-forward with the parents. The main thing he focuses on is academics. The rest of it will take care of itself. He's one of top five recruiters in the nation to me."

"I think it would take off even more," he added. "Guys see how we play together as a team. He's great with the guys. He's down-to-earth and fun to be around. But when you step on the practice or game field, it's all about business. He wants you to do your job."

After Saturday's chant and the players' confirmation, the message has been sent loud and clear.

"Yabba Dabo Doo. Coach Swinney is a great coach," Chancellor concluded. "He held this team together. He deserves the job."


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