CLEMSON—The rest of the ACC will have to deal with Dabo Swinney for the near future, because the Tigers’ head coach is not going anywhere, especially to his alma mater Alabama, for a while.
After the Tigers victory over Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship the rumor mill began running at full steam: Nick Saban is set to retire, Nick Saban is heading back to the NFL to avenge his only coaching failure, Crimson Tide fans want Saban out and, the biggest of all, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to return to his alma mater as head coach of the Crimson Tide.
While many may see the later as laughable, in speaking with two sources, a package was put together to bring Swinney from Clemson to Alabama should one of the Saban scenarios play out.
And one could see why Swinney would be the obvious choice to take over for Saban. In eight full seasons as the Tigers’ head coach, Swinney has amassed an 89-28 overall record (.761), led the Tigers to the best six-year span in school history (70-15), a 28-2 two-year record and the 2016 national title.
The Tigers are one of only two programs in the nation to win at least 10 games each of the last six seasons, Alabama being the other, and a Top Five national ranking for 24 consecutive weeks.
But all the rumors and scenarios have been put to bed, for now, with the announcement last week of Nick Saban signing a new contract that will pay the Tide head coach $11.25 million this season under a new deal that will keep him in Tuscaloosa through the 2024 season.
The salary will also include a $4 million signing bonus with an additional $4 million to be spread out through the 2020-2022 seasons.
However, even if Alabama did come calling Tiger fans have reasons to think that the Tigers’ head coach, a man they affectionately call Dabo, not coach, coach Swinney or Mr. Swinney—just Dabo, like an old friend, would not leave.
Because he has turned them down before.
“Most people don’t even know that when Coach Saban arrived at Alabama, he called and offered me a job, but the timing wasn’t right,” Swinney said. “If I had been chasing the next job or more money, we would never have gotten where we are today … just bloom where you are planted.”
“Blooming where you are planted” is something that, for Swinney, is not just another catchy phrase—it is a way of life.
In his eight full seasons as the Tigers’ head coach, he has taken the Clemson football program to heights they had not experienced in 35 years—winning a national title, but he, along with wife Kathleen, have also given back to the community.
Together, Dabo and Kathleen started Dabo’s All In Team Foundation with the goal of raising awareness of critical education and health issues through five key focus areas: Breast cancer research, The Family Effect, “Call Me Mister”, Life Programs and Grants.
Since the foundations inception in 2009, it has distributed over $2.25 million dollars to its focus area programs, but that is not all.
Last football season, Swinney and Kathleen announced that their family was pledging $1 million dollars to IPTAY in support of Clemson football to provide future funding for programmatic and building initiatives that will continue to move the program forward.
“I love Clemson, and I believe in our program, and I feel like Clemson has been pulling for me since that first game in 2008,” Swinney said. “But no matter how much we win on the field; my passion is building and empowering successful young men through the game of football. Kathleen and I are blessed. And we have always known we need to use those blessings to do good for others. It’s so important to us that we give back to this program that has been so good to us.”
Dabo’s philanthropic giving, his love for the Clemson community, and the communities love of Dabo, as well as his oldest son joining the 2017 Clemson football team as a wide receiver mean that for foreseeable future the rest of the ACC, and the rest of the county, will have to contend with a Dabo Swinney led Clemson Tiger football team.
“It’s been amazing how God has worked in our lives, and he’s blessed us tremendously — always has,” Swinney said. “When we had little and when we have had a lot. We just try to stay true to who we are and enjoy all the journey that we’ve been on. But as I tell people all the time, ‘the best is yet to come’, and, man, I’m just excited to be a part of it.”