Skip to main content

The narrative before Saturday's Textile Bowl matchup at Carter-Finley Stadium was that Clemson would be motivated to put up a big number against NC State because of the direspect it was shown by the College Football Playoff committee earlier in the week.

Well, the Tigers did what was expected, hammering the Wolfpack 55-10 to spoil their ACC Atlantic Division rival and clinch a spot in next month's championship game.

But perhaps their No. 5 playoff ranking wasn't the only motivation that led to the most lopsided result in the 88-game history of the series.

There has never been any love lost between Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and State's Dave Doeren because of several incidents involving their teams in the past. 

They added another chapter to their contentious relationship Saturday when Swinney had his team score a rub-it-in touchdown in the final seconds. leading to a postgame handshake that has been described by the Clemson media as "frosty."

Here's how it went down:

Already leading by 39 points, the Tigers got the ball back with 2:49 remaining when State's Tabari Hines inexplicably touched a punt that was rolling dead on the Wolfpack 23-yard line. 

Instead of taking a knee as time was running out, Swinney -- who earlier had an offensive lineman score a touchdown -- decided to let his deep reserves get the ball into the end zone. That clearly didn't please Doeren.

The Wolfpack coach called time out with 22 seconds remaining, presumably to give his counterpart an opportunity to think twice about trying to score. But Swinney wasn't in a charitable mood. He also wasn't in a mood to talk about either the touchdown Clemson scored two plays later or the brief, chilly handshake it helped bring about when asked about it after the game.

"Frosty handshake? Yeah, it was freaking 30 degrees," Swinney said. "There’s nothing ... I mean, what kind of question is that? What was frosty about it. Most of the time I don’t hardly ever get to spend 10 seconds with the coach. If you’re at Clemson, it’s mad dash to the paw to sing the alma-mater. Dave and I have a great relationship. You’re just trying to create something.

“Wasn’t anything frosty. 'Great game, good luck the rest of the way.' He was very nice. I was very nice. A game like that, you’re not going to stand out there and sing Kumbaya. I’ve been on both sides of it.”

Swinney can insist that he and Doeren are best buds all he likes, but history suggests otherwise.

Two years ago, after Clemson's most recent trip to State, the rival coaches engaged in a war of words after Doeren indirectly accused Swinney of cheating for having an illegal laptop on his sideline.

There have been other incidents, as well.

In 2015, State assistant Des Kitchings appeared to shove Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson as he ran out of bounds on the Wolfpack sideline. The following year, Tiger fans took exception to Doeren's comment about knocking Tiger running back Wayne Gallman out of the game with an injury.

And finally there was Towelgate, the time in which State star Bradley Chubb ruffled feathers by "stealing" a towel from Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant.

 For his part, Doeren downplayed the latest entry in the State-Clemson saga -- although it was eminently clear that he wasn't pleased with the way Saturday's game ended.

"I don’t really have a lot to say about it," he said. "It’s their third- or fourth-(stringers) in the game. You’ve got to try to stop them. Obviously, it’s something as a coach that you don’t like to see happen, but I’ve done the same thing in the past. You put your backups in and you let them play football. It is what it is."