Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney made no bones about how he felt about his 2018 football team.
Going back to the spring practice days and the heat of summer workouts his constantly called the 2018 team words like special, driven, focused and driven. But those were not the word that Swinney chose for his word.
Swinney, at the start of every year, instructs his team to choose a word that will be their focus for the year. That word can be any that the player chooses, so long as it has meaning to them and they can articulate that meaning to Swinney.
Swinney chose the word “joy” because in the world of major college football so many things can try to steal your joy. Whether it is wins and losses or pressure form a rabid fanbase, there are a number of things that can try to steal your joy.
“Well, that's been my word all year,” Swinney said. “I've tried to be intentional with that. For me personally, joy comes from focusing on Jesus other than yourself.
Swinney understands that when you are measured by wins and losses and championships won or lost there is an opportunity to lose sight of the important things in life.
That kind of focus and understanding of where his joy comes form, allowed Swinney to enjoy the moment that his 2018 Tigers’ squad captured their second national championship because
“I mean, very few people – there's so many great coaches that are so serving of a moment like this and never get the chance to experience it, and to get to do it once and now to get to do it again,” Swinney said. “It's just a blessing, and it's just simply the grace of the good Lord to allow us to experience something like this.”
Even amid the celebration Jan. 7, Swinney found the ability to thank the people that made it possible for him to achieve something very few people gave him a chance to accomplish when he was named head coach 10 years ago—win multiple national title.
‘ I'm so happy for our team, our fans, our administration, our former players,” Swinney said. “You know, I know we're not supposed to be here, and I'm not supposed to be here, but we are, and I am, and how about them Tigers, man? I'm so proud of our guys. These seniors, we beat Notre Dame and Alabama, we left no doubt, and we walk off this field tonight as the first 15-0 team in college football history.
“All the credit, all the glory goes to the good Lord, number one, and number two, to these young people. When you get a young group of people that believe, are passionate, they love each other, they sacrifice, they're committed to a purpose, you'd better look out, great things can happen, and that's what you saw tonight.”
While Swinney’s word for the 2019 season will change from joy to something else, there is little doubt that the joy felt by the Clemson fanbase will live on until Jan. 13, 2020–when the next national champion is crowned.