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DABO SWINNEY TRIES A BIG MAC

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A SHORT STORY FROM CLEMSON’S WHITE HOUSE VISIT

DABO SWINNEY: Wow. My goodness. My word, that is fantastic. You know, you work and you scrape and you struggle to achieve your goals, and then when you finally get there, you’re rewarded in kind. [chewing more] Mmm. Stupendous. I’ve got to compliment the chef on this. Excuse me, gar-sone? This dish, what do you call it? It’s magnificent.

WHITE HOUSE STAFFER: Huh?

SWINNEY: This exemplary meal. What is it called?

STAFFER: It’s... it’s a Big Mac.

SWINNEY: Don’t get friendly with me, son, I know it’s big, I’m asking what it’s called.

STAFFER: The sandwich, it’s called a “Big Mac”. It’s from McDonald’s. It’s one of the most recognizable foods on Earth. Have... have you never had a Big Mac?

SWINNEY: Son, I’m focused on football year-round, I don’t often let my hair down like this. Now, this “Big Mac”, how did you make it?

STAFFER: I... I didn’t make it. We just ran out to McDonald’s and spent like $300 at the drive-through. He says he’s gonna pay us back...

SWINNEY: C’mon now, son, don’t be modest. You’ve cooked a meal worthy of these fine young champions, tell me a little bit about it. [chewing more] What is this fine melody of flavors?

STAFFER: Man, haven’t you heard the jingle? “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”

SWINNEY: Now, son, don’t give away all your secrets. You’ve gotta play some things close to the vest. But don’t worry, you can trust me. Just like Clemson trusts that I won’t jump right over to Alabama when Coach Saban retires, you can trust that your secret recipe is safe with me.

STAFFER: [sighing] Listen, I was in the middle of something. [holds up toilet plunger] Are we good here?

SWINNEY: In a moment, in a moment. Let’s run through those ingredients again. Break down the tape for me. I love sharing strategy with a fellow master of his craft. What was first?

STAFFER: Two all-beef patties.

SWINNEY: That’s fantastic. You’ve got two mighty players, each a star in its own right - all beef, all American pride and hard-working farm products, full of protein, that’s what builds championship strength. Each of them could be the star of their own burger, but they’re forgoing individual glory for the good of the sandwich team. I have a saying I coined - “teamwork, makes the dream work”, and-

STAFFER: You did not coin that.

SWINNEY: - it’s just like what we saw with Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence this season. They didn’t fight, they didn’t complain, they did what’s best for the team and that’s how we got here.

STAFFER: You know Kelly Bryant transferred, ri-

SWINNEY: What’s next?

STAFFER: Uh, special sauce.

SWINNEY: Son, I don’t like that attitude. You can’t just run around calling yourself special. There’s a lot of hardworking sauces out there. Ketchup. Mustard. Chick-Fil-A. [long pause] I’m sure there’s others. Point is, you start thinking you’re special, that’s when you get complacent and other sauces jump in to flavor your burger.

STAFFER: It’s basically just mayonnaise and relish.

SWINNEY: What’s this green stuff?

STAFFER: Lettuce.

SWINNEY: Son, I don’t want to hear you saying that. It’s not about “let us”, it’s about “stop us”. Who’s going to stop us? Anyways, I’m not a fan of vegetables. Had a bad experience with a salad once. What’s next?

VOICE FROM OTHER ROOM: Derek, you coming with that plunger? The Lincoln Bedroom’s flooding-

STAFFER: I’m not even getting paid right now.

SWINNEY: C’mon son, it’s the fourth quarter and you’ve got the lead. Close out this game, what’s next?

STAFFER: Cheese.

SWINNEY: Fantastic. It’s delicious on a burger or a baloney sandwich, works hot or cold, it fits into any job. It’s like Hunter Renfrow. If you’ve got cheese all over your field, you’re covered well, my friend. [leans in conspiratorially] You know, I’ve got some friends high up in government-

STAFFER: We’re literally at the White House right now. The President is in the next room.

SWINNEY: - and they tell me we’ve got whole warehouses of this stuff. Greatest country on Earth. What else we got?

STAFFER: Onions...

SWINNEY: Don’t care for spicy food myself.

STAFFER: Pickles.

SWINNEY: Icky.

STAFFER: A sesame seed bun.

SWINNEY: Now here’s where you elevate a contender to a champion. You could just slap this on some white bread or eat it straight out of your hand, but you didn’t. You went the extra mile and put it on this fantastic bun. And sesame! I hear that word, I think of doors opening. I think of magical places. I think of going where the air is sweet. Son, this is a magnificent piece of cooking. Congratulations.

STAFFER: Alright, sir. If we’re done, I’ve got to go deal with something. [pulling on hip waders]

SWINNEY: One more thing, one more thing. What’s this?

STAFFER: That’s a Filet-O-Fish.

SWINNEY: [scrunching face up] Foreign food, eh? Leave that to the soccer players.