Swinney addressed a contingent of Orange players after Friday’s shocking 27-24 Syracuse win, pulling aside receiver Steve Ishmael to compliment his performance and snapping a couple of pictures with players.
Dabo just solidified my respect for him. Came in our locker room, shook our hands and congratulated us. WOW. That’s a dude right there✊🏾
— Kayton Samuels 🇯🇲 (@JustMyfans) October 14, 2017
“He came in and congratulated us, just saying, ‘Great win,’ and that was probably one of the most class-act things I’ve ever seen,” Syracuse linebacker Zaire Franklin said.
For Swinney’s No. 2 Tigers, the loss was a massive upset. Clemson was a 25-point favorite at kickoff, and the Tigers held the nation’s longest active winning streak at 11 games. They hadn’t lost a true road game since 2015.
Orange coach Dino Babers told SportsCenter on Saturday morning that he was at his postgame news conference when Swinney visited the Syracuse locker room, but the gesture didn’t come as a shock.
“When I got back, players were telling me that [Swinney] came in, and that does not surprise me,” Babers told SportsCenter. “He’s a first-class act. I guarantee you if someone said, ‘Hey, Dabo wants to talk to the team; what do you want us to do?’ I’d say, ‘If Dabo Swinney wants to talk to my football team, you let him talk.’ That’s how much respect I have for that man.”
Added Babers: “[My players] were really excited and proud that he came in and delivered that speech based off the effort of how they played on the football field.”
It was a long night for Swinney, who said he was “flat-out out-coached” by Babers. Swinney also dealt with the loss of his starting quarterback, Kelly Bryant, who left with a concussion, and watched his dominant defense suddenly look vulnerable.
Still, he couldn’t help but credit Syracuse.
“As an opposing coach, so heralded with so much of a reputation, to be knocked down like that and have the humility to come congratulate us,” Franklin said, “that says a lot about who he is. I thought that was awesome.”