After spending the evening with Dabo Swinney at his house Wednesday night, and then again at his annual media golf event Thursday one thing is very clear–he is very loose.
Anyone that had been around the program each of the last two seasons will tell you the same thing– when the Tigers went on their magical run in 2015, an undefeated season that led them to their first national championship appearance in 34 years, Swinney exuded a quiet confidence. Almost like he knew he had something special and couldn’t wait to show it off.
Last season was a little different though.
Last season, Swinney was more focused–almost to the point of being withdrawn. The Tigers’ head coach understood that the pressure was fully on the 2016 team to not only make a return trip to the national championship, but win the national championship–which they did for the first time in 35 years.
But even last season, with the media and the entire country expecting the Tigers to once again make it back to the biggest stage in college football–there was a sense that Swinney was much more guarded.
This season, Swinney’s demeanor has been eerily similar to that of the 2015 season.
Much like the mischievous child who knows something that he won’t tell his friends, Swinney appears to be as loose as any coach has ever been coming off a national championship.
Maybe it is because all of the talk this preseason has been, “not about who we have returning, but all of the people we lost” as Swinney said. Maybe it is because for the first time in two years the Tigers are not the favorite to win the ACC, or maybe it is because he knows something about this team that we don’t.
Maybe, just maybe, Swinney believes that he has the makings of another magical season–another special year. And maybe, just maybe, that is why the Swinney of two years ago has returned.
No one is saying that this year’s Tiger team is going to repeat as national champions or even make it back to the playoffs.
But what I am saying is–look out Tiger fans, because your head coach believes this team has a chance to be special, and when Dabo Swinney thinks he has something special–look out.