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Tennessee fans got the last laugh at Dabo Swinney, though the latter got to enjoy some free beef as a result. It was a win-win for both sides.
The win for the Volunteers tasted much better.
In November, with two games left in the regular season, Swinney addressed Tennessee’s loss to South Carolina in the week prior. Here is what he said:
When you’re in Tennessee’s position, and they’re like, ‘okay, we beat South Carolina, we beat Vandy,’ and they’re in the playoffs. They’re flipping burgers at the house, having a cold drink watching the championship weekend, ‘What are we? Are we 3 or 4? Where are we going? Are we in Arizona or are we in Atlanta?’ And the next thing you know, you forget you’ve gotta go play.— Dabo Swinney about Tennessee, on Nov. 21, 2022
Swinney later tried to walk back his comments, after his team also lost to the Gamecocks. He tried to spin it as a compliment and said that it was a classic case of people hearing what they wanted to hear.
The explanation did not help Vols fans see it in a new light. Swinney’s comments certainly stuck with the fanbase, and it’s easy to imagine that the Tennessee players also kept them at the forefront during their preparation for the Orange Bowl.
They went out and beat the No. 10-ranked Tigers by 17.
Following his team’s win in the most orange Orange Bowl of all-time, one Volunteers fan sent Swinney a gift. A man named “Will” sent 24 six-ounce Omaha Steaks burgers to the Clemson facility.
They arrived Tuesday!
Swinney may not be the one who ends up eating the burgers. If he does, each bite will also serve as a reminder of an Orange Bowl loss to Tennessee.