Dabo Swinney offers words of encouragement to Purdue interim coach Gerad Parker

Gerad Parker may have lost his first game as interim coach at Purdue this past weekend, but he did earn an encouraging phone call from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Purdue interim coach Gerad Parker sent Clemson coach Dabo Swinney a text message last week, perhaps hoping for a few words of advice from a man who had been in the same spot eight years ago.

Swinney was a receivers coach, like Parker, and was elevated to Clemson interim coach in 2008, like Parker was at Purdue less than two weeks ago. But rather than just reply to the text, Swinney ended up watching Purdue play Nebraska this past Saturday and then called Parker on Monday.

Parker gave a heartfelt interview about what that gesture meant to him, telling coachingsearch.com, “For him to reach out and do that in a busy time for him, and what he's going through, and spend 26 minutes to talk about the process for what he had to go through and all those things, shows you why Clemson is where they are and why his guys believe in where he's at.”

During the ACC coaches call on Wednesday, Swinney offered his own reasons for giving Parker a call. The two have never met, but Swinney said they were “kindred spirits.”

Swinney told him, “Don’t focus on the scoreboard; don’t focus on the results. You’ve got to change how they think, how they play. You’ve got to get them to buy into something that’s bigger than the scoreboard, especially those guys on their way out of there, and try to sow some good seeds and build a good foundation for what it’s going to look like eight years from now, seven years from now, regardless of whether he’s the coach there or somebody else is in there. Make the most of this opportunity and feel good about what you get done.”

Swinney also reflected on his time as an interim coach. After two months with that title, Clemson elevated him to head coach, and his career has been on the rise ever since.

“I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” Swinney said. “That’s a difficult situation, especially when you’re a young coach. I was 38, he’s 35, and you’re a young coach, you go from one of them to you’re the leader of them. None of those guys came there to play for you as the head coach, so there’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of dynamics and a lot of things you don’t control. Things haven’t been good and that’s why you get put in that situation. Hopefully gave him some good insight, and hopefully they can find a way to win a game or two and those kids can finish on a positive note.”

Purdue led Nebraska 14-10 at halftime last weekend before losing 27-14 in Parker’s first game as interim coach. It doesn’t get any easier this Saturday, as the Boilermakers play No. 24 Penn State.