Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling the ACC coaches. Today is look at Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
The facts: At 42, Swinney is the youngest coach in the ACC. Don’t let that fool you, though. He may be the best — right now. Under his watch, Clemson has won two Atlantic Division titles in three years, the only division titles for the school under the current conference format. His recruiting prowess — two Top 10 classes — has the Tigers program set up for years to come. While recording Top 25 finishes is noteworthy, they have come despite being unranked to start seasons. That won’t last for long.
The contract: Earlier this month, Clemson announced that Swinney had agreed in principle to a three-year contract extension that will keep him on the Tigers sidelines through 2017. The total figures equal out to a six-year deal worth roughly $12 million, plus incentives.
The background: Walk-on receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Member of the 1992 National Title team. Graduate assistant at Alabama upon graduation. Worked in real estate for two years after he was fired from Alabama, along with the entire staff of Mike DuBose, in 2001. Joined Tigers staff in 2003 as receivers coach and slowly took over the recruiting reigns. Named one of the Top 25 recruiters in the nation by Rivals in 2007. Named interim head coach at Clemson on Oct. 13, 2008.
The record: 29-19 overall, 19-10 conference
2008: 4-3 overall, 3-2 conference, lost Gator Bowl
2009: 9-5 overall, 6-2 conference, won Music City Bowl
2010: 6-7 overall, 4-4 conference, lost Meineke Car Care Bowl
2001: 10-4 overall, 6-2 conference, lost Orange Bowl
The players: Since taking over, Swinney has overseen twelve players selected in the NFL Draft. C.J. Spiller, Da’Quan Bowers, and Marcus Gilchrist were selected in the top two rounds, with Spiller representing only the second Top 10 Clemson selection in over twenty years. The full list: Spiller, Bowers, Gilchrist, Byron Maxwell, Jamie Harper, Kavell Conner, Crezdon Butler, Jacoby Ford, James Davis, Michael Hamlin, Chris Clemons, and Darell Scott.
The quote: “I have respect for their program, but South Carolina is not Clemson,” Swinney said. “There are a lot of differences. This is a place that has won a national title, 17 conference championships and two division titles. Heck, we have won more bowl games than they have even been to. I think our program has 100-plus more wins than South Carolina. That is reality.”
–Swinney is response to South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier being attributed to saying “we might not be LSU or Alabama, but we ain’t Clemson, folks.”
The future: Swinney is undoubtedly one of the rising coaches in the college football world. His early success at Clemson has led to bigger and brighter expectation, including future National Championships. While the ACC hasn’t been seen on that level for years, Swinney had the team in a BCS game last season. If Clemson continues to produce highly talented recruiting classes, the sky’s the limit when the new playoff system comes into existence.