CLEMSON – It’s “talking season” for college football.
But not for Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney. At least not yet.
Clemson’s 15th-year coach opted to talk food rather than football Wednesday evening, sidestepping questions about recent realignment rumors, including Clemson’s potential departure from the ACC.
“I’m not getting into all that,” Swinney said. “I’ll let all of y’all talk about all that stuff. This is the talking season so there’s a lot of conversation going on in college football.”
So where does Clemson stand?
“We’ve been in the league a long time,” he said. “We’ve got a great program and we’re well positioned.”
Swinney preferred to discuss his recent business venture – Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux. A sports restaurant with a Louisiana-inspired menu, Walk-On’s will be located on Clemson’s College Avenue at the site of the old Astro movie theater.
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Swinney is the newest franchisee in the chain, which numbers 65 restaurants across 12 states. The Clemson location is set to open in late August or early September – in time for Clemson’s first home football game on Sept. 10 – and will be the second location in South Carolina, joining Myrtle Beach. Another location is planned for Greenville.
“This is a definite first for me,” Swinney said at the Clemson location. “I’ve had a lot of opportunities, especially when I became the head coach at Clemson and they start putting your salary in the paper. I got a lot of new aunts and uncles and cousins and a lot of business opportunities.
“I’ve pretty much stayed in my lane, but this was something that really resonated with me.”
Like Swinney, who was a walk-on football player at Alabama, Walk-On’s founder and CEO Brandon Landry also was a college walk-on – as a basketball player at LSU.
“We just felt a mutual connection,” said Landry, whose counts 13-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott among his other franchise investors. “We’re both former walk-ons and his program and our company are both purpose-driven. We just hit it off.”
Swinney is hungry for the grand opening.
“It’s such a diverse menu,there’s something for everybody,” Swinney said. “You’ve got Cajun cuisine or a burger or red beans and rice. A little bit of everything.
“What I’m probably looking most forward to is the whole dessert menu because it’s amazing, starting with the Krispy Kreme bread pudding.”
But no Dabo Dog or Gamecock Gumbo?
“No,” Swinney said. “They have their menu and their philosophy and we’ll stick with that. It’s going to be just a really cool environment.”
The first Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux opened in 2003 in the shadow of LSU’s Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The company also has created a non-profit foundation with a mission to rebuild or refurbish youth sports facilities in the communities of its franchises.