Bring Me The Head Of Dabo Swinney: A Three Part Series on FSU's Biggest Rivals
Rivalries. The age-old competition for perpetual dominance that spans across time, space and virtually every level of human interaction. Sports, entertainment, music, and even entire societies, have all given us some great ones: Crips vs. Bloods; Beatles vs. Stones; Ric Flair vs. Sting; Ricky Bobby vs. Jean Girard. The list goes on and on.
But, show us any great rivalry produced throughout history, and we will tell you it’s an outright pussy compared to the unbridled fury of the college football rivalry. Indeed, few rivalries known to man can match the passion, intensity, and downright hatred that bubbles up when rival fan bases begin debating the topic of gridiron superiority. It all leads up to that annual grudge match – that magical time in the season known as rivalry week – when your hater dial gets turned up to eleven, and shit really goes nuclear: Entire households are divided; life-long friendships evaporate into thin air; and even the happiest of marriages crumble.
In the end, all you are left with is that delightful hate-on you can feel all the way down in your plumbs. No quarter. No mercy. Logic, politeness, compassion, they all get their whiny, scrawny asses kicked right out the door so you can make room on the couch for your real friends: Vengeance, loathing, alcohol, and maybe even delicious cigarettes. So, GTFO compassion, you silly bitch; you’re sitting in vengeance’s chair.
Another unique aspect of the college football rivalry is that it allows, and in fact encourages, the participants to behave like complete derelicts. Rivalry week basically gives you a week-long hall pass to act like an incorrigible jack ass with little to no regard for the feelings (or safety) of others … especially those pencil dicks who dare root for your nemesis. Rude, hurtful and shocking behavior is expected, if not condoned, and nothing, and we mean nothing, you do or say is out-of-bounds. Well, almost.
Threw full cans of beer at your brother-in-law’s children after last year’s UF game? No biggie. Tried to poison “Mr. Meowsie,” your next-door neighbor’s cat, for flying that Miami flag in front of their house? It’s cool, bro. Told your 97 year old granny to suck a cock after she said Dabo Swinney “looks like a nice young man”? Damn son, pump the breaks! Like we said, magical.
But, are all college football rivalries created equally? They are not. Is the hate pie distributed in even slices? Not a Goddamn chance. So, with that in mind, this three-part series will examine three of Florida State’s biggest rivals, Clemson, UF, and Miami, in order to determine why the spirit of completion is so fierce. But, mostly to make fun of the teams we can’t f-in stand. Hey, it makes us feel better, ok! We have problems. Scary Problems.
So, without further adieu, Clemson, the first disemboweling spear is yours.
#3 The Clemson Tigers – Traditional Whipping Post Turned School Yard Bully
How exactly does one begin to explain the phenomenon which is Clemson? Well, we want to start by asking you to close your eyes. Close em, ass wipe! Now, we want you to think back to your high school days, and envision that super goofy kid that everybody made fun of. You know, the one who wore ill-fitting glasses, had a crushing case of acne, wore strange clothes, and sat in the back of science class picking his nose and eating his boogers. If you were that kid, this should be easy.
For the most part, he was a nice enough guy, maybe a bit awkward, but generally harmless. He posed little to physical no threat to anyone, nor did you ever worry about him legitimately trying to move in on any of the good trim at school. But, that still didn’t stop you and your friends from mercilessly pelting him in the face with dodge balls in gym class to see who could be the first to knock off his glasses.
Alas, no matter how hard he tried, or how badly he wanted to be taken seriously, he always seemed to end up on the short end of the stick. Or, getting dumped in a trash can after lunch. Indeed, he appeared destined for a lifetime of ridicule and mediocrity, never once getting his moment in the spotlight. See where we’re going with this?
Then, one day, it all changes. He shows up to school driving a flashy new Mercedes. He ditched the glasses, got a new haircut and some Accutane to wipe out the pepperoni pizza that had set up a beachhead on his face. His goofy clothes and K-Mart Clodhopper shoes? Gone. In their place, designer jeans, and Versace high tops. By all accounts, it appears that he has completely reinvented himself.
Pretty soon, all of the hot girls are talking about him, and all of the popular kids want his attention. The buzz, as they say, is real. However, not everybody is buying it. The cynical jocks that have traditionally dominated the social hierarchy still have their doubts. Many believe, that underneath the new, shiny façade, still lies that same booger slurping loser they tormented for years. More importantly, many still do not believe that he poses any real threat to their dominance.
So, what does our little buddy do to assuage their sense of security? Well, he promptly goes on a revenge tour, scoping out the biggest, baddest dudes in school and challenging them to a fight in front of the whole student body. Sure, some of fights are close at first, but he soon finds his stride, and by the end, is dealing out Van Damme style beat downs for all to see. He doesn’t just beat his competition, he embarrasses them, their penance for decades and decades of torment and torture he has previously endured by at their hands. When the dust settles, he proudly and undeniably sits atop the social pecking order, the newly crowned king of the school. Of course, he still picks his nose on occasion, but nobody seems to notice. Now, see where we’re headed? Good, cause we have no clue.
Indeed, Clemson, once the college football equivalent of a dented pick-up truck engulfed in flames with its very own gerund verb about failure — “Clemsoning” (/Clem-son-ing/ verb The act of starting off strong, then catastrophically nose-diving into a ditch and exploding) — has risen from the ashes of obscurity, unseated traditional conference and national football powers, and now finds itself as college football’s gold standard. Yes, we’re thinking the same thing: Clemson? Really!? What the tit fuck!
For whatever reason, the football gods have cast their favor on those lovable orange and purple losers. What once clunked, rattled and smoked like a bad Pinto, is now fast and sleek like a new Lambo. And, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. So for now, Clemson can peer down at the rest of college football and boldly proclaim its message loud and clear: Who eats boogers now, bitch!?
The Rivalry - The Annoying Little Brother that Won't Leave you Alone
In fairness, it’s difficult to readily classify Clemson as Florida State’s true rival. For what factors are indicative of a rivalry in sports anyway? Geography? Yes. Historical parity? Of course. Overall significance of the series? Oh yeah. Outright hatred for the opposing fan base? Damn right! In this regard, Clemson has historically fallen short in the rivals category. But, whatever football pedigree Clemson may have lacked in the past, they make up for with unconscionable douchebaggery in the present.
Separated by nearly four hundred miles (and Georgia), and located in different states, Clemson and FSU do not battle for in-state superiority or generally brawl over the same recruiting territory. Historically, FSU has dominated the series, including winning nine in a row from 1992-2002, still the longest streak to date. FSU also leads the overall series 20-13.
Indeed, ask any FSU fan about Clemson, and they are likely to compare the Tigers to an annoying little step-brother. You know, the one you inherited only because your hot mom married his aging father for his money. Although you’re forced to share a household with him, that doesn’t mean you have accepted him as an actual family member.
Overall, he sucks, embarrasses you at family events, and hogs the bathroom, but generally, you are able to ignore him. Every now and again, you catch him rooting around in your collection of Juggs Magazines, in which case you have to delve out some justice in the form of a wedgie and finish by tossing him down a flight of stairs. But then, you forget about it and just go right back to reading Juggs magazine like it never happened.
So it goes with Clemson, FSU's annoying little brother by marriage. Forced to share the conference equivalent of a bathroom, FSU would just assume ignore their pesky neighbor to the north instead of taking the time to acknowledge they exist. Oh sure, they get in the way sometimes when FSU is primping itself for that big date, but a quick slap to the back of the head is an easy reminder of who runs shit round here.
In fairness, Clemson does check some of the boxes on the rivalry checklist: They are a divisional foe; head-to-head match-ups have produced some legendary moments, as well as significant upsets (Wonder if Clemson remembers that “Puntrooskie” game that cost them the national title in 1988?); and the annual match-up has traditionally determined the conference champion. Clemson fans also tend to believe that their beloved Tigers match FSU in football pedigree, an argument that is belied by years and years of Florida State using their players as human lawn mowers on the field.
Recently though, things have gotten weird. Clemson’s meteoric rise to the top of the college football mountain has turned the tables on this once lukewarm feud. In particular, FSU, who once looked down upon Clemson in pity and stopped winning just long enough to laugh in their direction, now actually yearns to emulate their success. Whereas FSU used to wipe the dog shit off its cleats with Clemson’s welcome mat, that same mat has now been abruptly pulled out from underneath our shit-soaked feet, and we have landed squarely on our ass.
Worse yet, Clemson now stands over our ailing body in full mock position laughing hysterically at our misfortunes. So, in this regard, it has become easier for FSU fans to want to bludgeon Clemson over the head with a giant bag of dicks. Of course, the feelings of disdain and hatred for Clemson have not reached those Florida State fans experience with, say, the Hurricanes, but give it time. A few more years of getting shellacked at home may bring out our collective yearning to wish death by bazooka fire just yet.
The Team – “All In” ... on Being Complete Douchebags
It’s been said that just like how dogs start to look like their owners over time, successful football programs ultimately take on the personality of the head man in charge. Want proof? Look no further than Clemson, who disingenuously lugs around that giant chip on its shoulder like Miami fans lug around stolen coolers on game day. Fueled by disrespect (and probably some horse steroids), Clemson sees itself as college football’s newest ass-kicking underdog.
The credit for Clemson’s surge to the top, and indeed its perennial dark horse image, has to go to head coach, Dabo Swinney. Swinney, a former real estate agent, who is a cross between evangelical minister and unhinged, wild hillbilly, has made himself the face of Clemson’s "us against the world" crusade, and seems to relish his role as the lovable goof ball who’s success has far exceeded his capabilities.
In a time when elite college football coaches are either insufferably cranky (Nick Saban), or just downright sinister (Urban Meyer), Swinney’s lighthearted, “golly, gee, heck” approach was initially a refreshing change. In this regard, Swinney’s in stark contrast to his contemporaries and bears a striking similarity to what Bobby Bowden was in his prime, the witty, southern gentleman to Joe Paterno’s crusty, yankee dickheadedness.
But, as any Florida State fan will attest to, underneath the lovable country boy façade lies a world class cock sucker. Still butt-hurt after years of Clemson being the Goose to FSU’s Maverick, and frustrated with the abuse heaped upon his team by the SEC testicle-gobblers in the media, Swinney’s passive-aggressive behavior, inane bitching and blatant scoreboard padding is more PMSing teenage girl than down-home, country coach.
He seems to hold a particularly strong grudge against the Seminoles, never missing the opportunity for a back-handed compliment, or an outright diss. His exploitation of FSU’s misery and compulsion for engaging in his own personal score porn fetish when Clemson plays the Noles has grown as stale as momma's cornbread.
Indeed, for FSU fans, Dabo is that hillbilly cousin that came to stay with you for a week, and now refuses to leave. He was funny at first, but now won't stop hitting on your little sister or peeing in your sink. You really aren't quite sure how to handle him, all you know is dude's got to go.
Dabo’s prized golden retriever? Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a 6’6”, 220 pound Ken Doll with flowing locks and a million dollar arm. By all accounts, Lawrence is an ideal human being. He’s an A student, loves Jesus, and rescues old people from nursing home fires. Probably. On the field, he’s seemingly unflappable, tossing touchdown after touchdown and grinning like a 12 year old boy who just got his first boner. Indeed, it would take a special type of degenerate to hate on Trevor Lawrence. Well, we are those degenerates.
To be fair, we don’t hate Trevor Lawrence like, say, Tim Tebow. Unlike Tebow, who’s college career was a string of “hey everyone come see how good I look” moments, Lawrence doesn’t seem to actually understand how good he is or the furor that surrounds him. Nonetheless, that would not stop us from erupting at the sight of Marvin Wilson tearing him in half this fall, while we do the Warchant over his body as it lay lifeless on Bobby Bowden Field. See, told you we’re degenerates.
If Lawrence is Clemson’s prized show dog then defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, is its pit bull with rabies. Known for his close resemblance to Skeletor, the skull faced villain from He-Man, as well as his relentless intensity, Venables consistently produces defenses that are as nasty and unforgiving as a bar room Donnybrook, and equally as unpredictable. With Venables, you know you’re going to get clocked in the head, you just don’t know where it’s going to come from.
Venables' savagery is so off the charts, that Clemson has to outfit him with his very own “Getback Coach,” a full-time assistant who’s only job on game day is to ensure Venables doesn’t completely lose his shit, run off the sideline and close line an opposing player. Yes, you heard that right, Clemson actually pays somebody good money to stand behind Venables and restrain him by performing what amounts to a reach-a-round in front of 85,000 people. Told you they’re weirdos.
Clemson Fans - College Football’s Beverly Hillbillies
If Miami Hurricanes’ fans are college football’s equivalent of ISIS, then Clemson fans are its friendly, neighborhood church group. Annoyingly friendly, Clemson fans are what would happen if you combined the faithful from every SEC school (No, not you Arkansas, you’re just weird), forced them to be really nice, and made them share their beers with opposing fans instead of shot-gunning them and throwing the empties at their children. Consistently voted “Best Fan Base in the Universe” year after year, Clemson fans pride themselves on their politeness, hospitality and sportsmanship. Blech. They are nice. In fact, they are too nice, which tends to raise suspicion amongst more caustic, cynical fan bases like FSU, who have grown accustomed to UF’s snobbery, and Miami’s parking lot assaults.
Game day at Clemson is exactly what you would expect from a deep-south football factory. There is a sea of tents, tables and industrial smokers, cornhole, pretty girls in sundresses, $75,000 pick-up trucks, and RV’s that cost more than your house, have bigger televisions and get better Wi-Fi too, as well as tailgate spreads that make the Ritz-Carlton buffet look like Golden Corral. To top it off, the whole place looks like somebody sprayed it down with an entire fire hose of Tang, and didn’t spare a single fan.
Stroll the grounds of this football Garden of Eden long enough and you’re bound to experience some of Clemson’s deep-fried hospitality first hand. But unlike in Miami, where your FSU gear is an open invite for Canes’ fans to shout homophobic slurs, and urinate on your legs, you won’t find any f-bombs hurled in your direction at Clemson, just a cold one on a hot, September afternoon. There are hands being thrust in your face, but they aren’t baring middle fingers, only a delicious slice of pecan pie.
Clemson tailgates are as pure as the driven snow (before Miami pees in it) and have the feel of a Sunday church picnic. You know, the one you attended that one time only because there was a girl there you were trying to bang. You had no benevolent intentions, and you sure as hell weren’t looking for salvation. You were just trying to get laid.
Of course, after mingling with the attendees for a few minutes, you aren’t quite sure what to think. Are these people really that welcoming and kind-hearted? Or, are they just trying to lure me in, hog-tie me, then sell me to an underground sex empire? You’re never quite sure with Clemson. What you do know though, is that if you were in Miami, you’d be good as sold to a pimp named “Buck” in Hialeah.
While seemingly genuine, Clemson fans are also fairly humble. In fact, they behave like a family who spent their entire life as residents of Poorville. Oh, you know Poorville. It's the place where the sun never shines, the houses barely have running water, and the residents all cook meth in bathtubs. In other words, it resembles every Miami tailgate in the history of the world.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, they won the lottery, and so began a new life filled with untold riches and luxury. Clemson fans now find themselves living in the swankiest neighborhood in town among the community’s elite, and their memories of Poorville in the rear-view-mirror. Of course, the neighbors all hate their guts, and deep down, they seem to know that they don’t belong, but that hasn't stopped them from installing that above-ground pool and staking their claim.
Since their success is more recent, they have not yet had time to master the unbridled smuggery of Alabama, or the wild, alcohol fueled debauchery of LSU. You won’t find them bathing in craw fish, downing a fifth of bourbon, or launching themselves onto a beer pong table. But, you know what, give it time. A few more years of this shit and you may see them all hopped up on cocaine and dancing topless on the roof of a car just yet.
Like all fan bases who have historically lived in blinding misery, but suddenly had a taste of the good life, Clemson fans struggle with that deep-seeded insecurity that one day soon, it will all come crashing down. They know the margin of error is razor thin, and that one coaching departure, one NCAA scandal, or one crushing upset will find them jettisoned from their swanky digs and sent right back to Poorville. And, they know that in Poorville, they have to live next door to Pitt, share a one-bedroom shack with Wake Forest, and pay protection money to Louisville, the neighborhood drug dealer.
Of course, for FSU, the day when order is finally restored to the college football universe cannot come soon enough. Truth be told, we just want our old house back. Clemson is ruining the lawn.
The Series - From Domination to Abomination
In the minds of many FSU fans, the FSU-Clemson “rivalry” has traditionally not carried the same significance as the likes of Miami, UF, or even Notre Dame. With Clemson, you don't have that “Wide Right," or "Ward to Dunn" moment that goes down in the pages of FSU history. Plus, for years, the annual Florida State-Clemson showdown was nothing more than an afterthought, a pit-stop on the way to Coral Gables, South Bend, or Gainesville. Clemson just wasn’t a threat, and therefore, they weren’t a rival. They were just … Clemson.
In fact, between 1970 and 1992 – FSU’s first year in the ACC – the teams had met only five times, with FSU winning three out of five. The most notable of those games, of course, was FSU’s ball-crushing upset of Clemson in 1988. Known in FSU fairy-tale lore as the “Puntroosky” game. Named after the gutsy fake punt to Leroy Butler late in the fourth quarter, the "Puntrooskie" would ultimately seal the victory for FSU and wind up costing Clemson the national title. Legend has it, Bowden designed the “Puntroosky” play specifically for Clemson probably knowing damn well that there was no team dumb enough to ever fall for it except Clemson. Indeed, the “Puntroosky” game was instrumental in establishing Bobby Bowden’s “River Boat Gambler” reputation and that FSU was suddenly a force to be reckoned with. Of course, Clemson would avenge the loss a year later in Tallahassee, but by that time, nobody really gave a shit.
In 1992, FSU officially joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, an ill-conceived collection of basketball schools that Clemson had historically dominated. Of course, boasting about "dominating" the pre-1992 ACC is akin to bragging about beating up a pack of blind kids, but we digress.
Well sir, if Clemson was indeed the king of the ACC hill prior to FSU joining the league, Bobby Bowden and friends quickly charged up that hill, pile drove Clemson into the rocks, and sent its limp body sliding down the side into the thorny gulch at the bottom.
You know the rest. FSU proceeded to pistol whip Clemson for nine straight seasons and capture nine straight ACC titles as well as two national championships. As for Clemson, well they soon found themselves living in ACC exile, an existence as empty and hollow as their ACC trophy case.
to be sure, the beat downs Clemson suffered at the hands of FSU during that glorious time were epic: 57-0 (1993); 48-0 (1998); 54-7 (2000) and 48-31 (2002), just to name a few. FSU established itself as the undeniable king of the ACC kingdom, while Clemson claimed the far less distinguished title of “Earl of Diarrhea.” “Earl, oh Earl, come hither to thine chamber so that I may look upon thou orange britches that are soiled with the shite of 1,000 noblemen and cackle with glee.”
In fact, the only remotely interesting thing about an otherwise yawn-inducing series during that time period occurred in 1999 with the first ever “Bowden Bowl." There, we saw Bobby Bowden matched up against his less talented son, Tommy, who had taken over as Clemson’s head coach before the start of the season. Moderately hyped due to the inter-family coaching match-up, Bowden Bowl I turned out to be the football equivalent of a wet fart. FSU mailed in the limpest of limp dick efforts and actually trailed at halftime before Peter Warrick finally had enough and led FSU to a 17-14 victory.
The game was such a snore-fest, that the announcers kept themselves amused by relentlessly commenting on Bobby’s wife, Ann Bowden’s, half FSU, half Clemson sweater that she wore to the game in honor of her husband and son. The sweater, a garnet, gold and orange nightmare, appeared to have been sewn together using car wash rags, and then bedazzled by a blind cripple. We’ve seen crack heads with better fashion sense.
The Bowden Bowl series mercifully came to an end in 2008 when Tommy Bowden was shit canned, er resigned, six games into the season. We can only hope that Ann Bowden’s sweater went up in flames along with Tommy’s coaching career.
As the 90’s drew to a close, one could start to see FSU’s grip on the tiny dick of the ACC begin to slip, and the new millennium would ultimately be the precursor to the gruesome death of the Florida State dynasty. From 2003-2009, with Bowden in the twilight of his career and FSU caught in a perpetual nose-dive, Clemson turned the tide of the series by winning five out of seven.
Of course, the source of FSU’s demise was due in large part to Bowden’s ineptitude, including the inexplicable decision to hand over the keys to the offense to his barely literate spawn, Jeff, in what proved to be the ultimate bring your kid to work day, bullshit nepotism move gone wrong. It seems that this time, the River Boat Gambler made one bet too many, and found himself getting tossed out of the casino face first after he couldn’t cover.
As fate would have it, six games into the 2008 season, and in accordance with the decades old Clemson tradition of ceremoniously frog marching unsuccessful coaches into the square in front of the town’s people, at which point they are to be catapulted into the sun, Tommy Bowden was fired, and thereby exiled for all eternity. Enter one Dabo Swinney.
Meanwhile in Tallahassee, the sun was finally setting on Bobby Bowden’s coaching career with Florida State’s then head-coach-in-waiting, [name redacted], itching to pull the plug on his aging boss. In 2010, with Bobby Bowden safely tucked away in college football’s nursing home for the old and decrepit, [name redacted] was formally named Florida State’s new head coach. So dawned a new chapter in the FSU-Clemson rivalry.
Like those who came before him, Dabo initially struggled mightily at reading, and beating FSU on a consistent basis. From 2010-2014, he managed only a single victory against [name redacted's] resurgent Seminoles. Nonetheless, while [name redacted] was away on job interviews, Dabo was quietly gaining ground, and building Clemson into a respectable powerhouse. Yes, things finally seemed to be looking up for Dabo and his Tigers. Then 2013 happened.
Early in the 2013 season, Clemson had managed to claw their way all the way up to #3 in the AP poll. There was talk of a conference championship, hell, even a national championship. The only thing standing in between Clemson and the prospect of finally filling its empty trophy case with something other than dust and old Gatorade bottles: A prime time, nationally televised showdown with #5 Florida State and its red-shirt freshmen quarterback, Jameis Winston.
The contest was billed as one of those “game of the decade,” heavy-weight fight types with many in the media giving the edge to Clemson. It was said, at the time, that a rookie quarterback would not be able to handle the pressure of a nationally televised game, or the big stage, particularly one surrounded by 80,000 rabid Clemson fans clamoring for his blood. So, what did Jameis do? How did FSU respond? Well, they strolled into Death Valley with an ear-to-ear grin, proceeded to chop Clemson up into itty-bitty pieces and didn’t stop until it was good and killed.
The game wasn’t even close. Or fair. By the end of the first quarter, Clemson had gone limp after FSU delivered a flurry of knockout punches and never recovered. By halftime, the game was so out of hand, it resembled Mike Tyson fighting Justin Beiber, and we’re certain Clemson fans were praying one of the refs would just pull a Rocky Balboa and toss a bloody towel in the ring before FSU’s Drago murdered their Apollo on live TV.
The end result? A 51-14 homicide that all but eliminated any dreams Clemson may have had of hoisting up the crystal in January. And, just like so many times in the past, all Clemson fans could do was peel themselves off the turf, collect up the shards of their shattered dreams and begin searching for their dignity. For FSU, it was a victory they would always remember, and for Clemson, a defeat they wouldn’t soon forget.
Of course, after 2013, things went downhill dramatically for FSU. In fact, one could say they ran over an IED, flew off a cliff and exploded on impact. Of course, [name redacted], likely sensing that impending doom was imminent and quickly approaching down the road, was able to leap from the vehicle prior to detonation and then whisked away to safety on a private helicopter. From 10,000 feet in the air, completely insulated from danger and surrounded by more cash than Fort Knox, [name redacted] was able to briefly witness Dabo and friends swoop in on the wreckage and proceed to lob live mortars into the charred remains.
In the years that followed [name redacted's] departure, it became apparent that Dabo had not forgotten about all of those garnet and gold skid marks FSU left on Clemson’s body on that faithful night in 2013, Now? Well now, it’s payback time, bitch! Since 2015, Dabo has taken what can only be described as masochistic pleasure in dismantling FSU with each year bringing a more profound, and brutal ass whooping. Our pain is his pleasure, and if he is sending a message, that message is clear: The king is dead. Long live the king.
So, what does the future hold for this blood-drenched series? Only time will tell. For now, Clemson holds FSU squarely by the short and curly hairs, leaving FSU fans with nothing but the dreams of a time gone by when FSU was on top and Clemson, well, Clemson was Clemson(ing).