Dabo Swinney Is Hired As The Head Coach Of Clemson University. Did Clemson Make The Right Move?

In Dabo We Trust? Yeah, I Think So!

12/3/08 in NCAAF   |   Ryan   |   153 respect

Why is this man smiling?  Is it:

A.  He just snagged his first head coaching job?

B.  He just snagged his first full-time position of true authority (coordinator or head coach) as a football coach?

C.  He's no longer brokering deals for shopping malls while working in commercial real estate.

D.  His name is Dabo and his new contract just might be in the range of one million dollars.


Of course the answer is that all of those options are true.  Dabo Swinney has been hired as the head football coach of Clemson University and the page has been turned on the Tommy Bowden era.

The players and many of the fans are applauding the move by Athletics Director Terry Don Phillips.  But the move has had many around the country scratching their heads.  Not only is Clemson taking a pretty big leap of faith with a relatively unproven head coaching candidate, but they have done so by ignoring some of the bigger names in the job market.

In spite of the fact that Swinney is very inexperienced when it comes to the head coaching duties, I think this is a great move for Clemson.  (Keep in mind I'm a die-hard South Carolina fan!)  Yes, Swinney is inexperienced - but does he have to have tons of experience to be effective?  Bowden had plenty of head coaching experience, but it didn't seem to stop him from failing miserably with an extremely talented team this year.

The way I see it, this works on a few different levels.  I can't deny that Swinney's lack of head coaching experience might scare me (if I were a Clemson fan) once the emotions fade from his "interim" stint.  However, he's not flying solo here.  All reports seem to indicate the Swinney has intentions to keep offensive line coach Brad Scott on staff.  While Scott did not achieve much success in his stint as a head coach at rival South Carolina, he knows what it takes to be a head coach.  Oh yeah, he also was a pretty decent offensive coordinator at Florida State when they won the National Championship in 1993.  Having him to lean on should prove to be valuable to the new head coach.  Plus, it's nice to know that your new head guy doesn't have a problem putting his foot down on staff decisions.

I also think this works for the program because he's familiar with a recruiting process that has worked well.  He helped haul in a top-ranked recruiting class last year and could help salvage another top recruiting class again this season.  This continuity will help keep the recruiting aspect going in the direction set forth by Bowden.  Here the old saying "Sometimes it's more about Jimmies and Joes than X's and O's" might work well for him and the Tigers.  If Clemson can continue to haul in top-ranked prospects from around the southeast, he might not have to be the best coach in the world right away, rather just a competent one.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the studs have to carry the load!

From the Athletic Director's point of view, I think this was a risk worth taking.  Really, as hard as Swinney worked to endear himself to the Tiger faithful, it would have been hard for Phillips not to hire him.  With Will Muschamp locked down in Texas and Lane Kiffin headed to Tennessee, there weren't any real "big names" out there for Clemson to woo.  And even if there were some top-notch names, Clemson would likely have had trouble competing for these marquee coaches.  After the way he stabilized the post-Bowden ship, I think he earned the chance to continue the program.  If he fails miserably, I don't think the brass at Clemson are going to give him an extended leash.  No matter what his contract says, if he can't show some serious signs of getting Clemson to an ACC Championship Game in the next year or two, I think Swinney will be escorted out quickly.  At that point, I expect Clemson to over-pay handsomely for the biggest name coach on the market.

I hear often from fans that they want their team to find the next "great coach", however it seems that these same fans applaud when their team hires a coach who has already achieved great things at other programs.  (Yes, I'm a South Carolina fan.)  Sometimes the biggest rewards come from the biggest risks.  Clemson may have just hired the next Dennis Franchione.  Or they could have signed the next legendary coach in college football.  Dabo Swinney may not be the next Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden, poised to guide his team for decades and stockpile victories like Mark Mangino collects buffet plates.  But then again, maybe he is from the same mold as Bowden and Paterno.  Who knows?   This dude named Dabo may just be up to the challenge.  Only time will tell.
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1/1/09   |   djclemson   |   4 respect

wrote:
You Clemson fans always get hyped about a new coach....lol. After the Frank Howard era, Clemson fans have been more worried about what man they elevate to the status of savior instead of worrying about who they recruit.

Here's a list of your latest saviors that were your Gods until you got tired of them:

Hootie Ingram
1970-1972
3
33
12
21
0
.364
Red Parker
1973-1976
4
44
17
25
2
.409
Charley Pell
1977-1978
1.9
23
18
4
1
.804
Danny Ford
1978-1989
11.1
129
96
29
4
.760
Ken Hatfield
1990-1993
3.9
46
32
13
1
.707
Tommy West
1993-1998
5.1
59
31
28
0
.525
Tommy Bowden

Dabo is just the latest greatest. I give him 2 years tops and you guys are on to your next rag of a coach! He will consult with Danny in his secret farm coop meetings and survive the first two years on gimmicks until he runs out of tricks.

I guess Notre Dame fans were not hyped about Charlie Weis.
Let's take a look at Notre Dame coaches since Lou Holtz:

1997–2001 Bob Davie 5 35–25 .583
2001* George O'Leary 0 0–0 .000
2002–2004 Tyrone Willingham 3 21-15 .583
2004† Kent Baer 1 0–1 .000
2005–present Charlie Weis 3 24–15 .615


Nice.

12/4/08   |   maroon&gold4eve   |   13754 respect

wrote:
You Clemson fans always get hyped about a new coach....lol. After the Frank Howard era, Clemson fans have been more worried about what man they elevate to the status of savior instead of worrying about who they recruit.

Here's a list of your latest saviors that were your Gods until you got tired of them:

Hootie Ingram
1970-1972
3
33
12
21
0
.364
Red Parker
1973-1976
4
44
17
25
2
.409
Charley Pell
1977-1978
1.9
23
18
4
1
.804
Danny Ford
1978-1989
11.1
129
96
29
4
.760
Ken Hatfield
1990-1993
3.9
46
32
13
1
.707
Tommy West
1993-1998
5.1
59
31
28
0
.525
Tommy Bowden

Dabo is just the latest greatest. I give him 2 years tops and you guys are on to your next rag of a coach! He will consult with Danny in his secret farm coop meetings and survive the first two years on gimmicks until he runs out of tricks.

It appears to me Pell,Ford,and Hatfield had pretty decent records.We didn't get tired of Pell,he left on his own free will to head to Florida.Ford is still and always will be a legend at Clemson,I have been told from a very reliable source the reason Ford was let go and it had nothing to do with job performance.It was a persona; and private matter concerning family and I'll leave it at that.Ken Hatfield was an excellent coach who didn't fit into the"good old boy"system.I still don't believe he was given a fair shake,but thats was 15 years ago.Water under the bridge.
Like I said before,every great coach had to start somewhere.This is Dabo's chance.At least Clemson looks for the up and comers unlike some schools do,recycling coaches who have past thier prime!

12/4/08   |   37_and_haye_z

I think there's a bigger thing we're all missing here above what we feel for the guy (who seems like a great guy) and what we think of his credentials, which time and time again don't always equal success.  Continuity; in keeping guys from leaving early, in recruiting, in the Clemson community, even in the fan support.  Everyone loves change.....as long as it's over quick and things get back to normal as fast as possible.

12/4/08   |   CUTiger92   |   3 respect

I like Coach Swinney at Clemson.  I think he will do well.  I know that there will be a learning curve, but I expect success in time.

www.faniq.com/article/Dabo-Swinney--Against-All-Odds-1006351

12/3/08   |   Ryan   |   153 respect

I agree.  I think he worked himself into that chance!

Plus, he seems like a good guy - even if he wears orange. 

12/3/08   |   maroon&gold4eve   |   13754 respect

Only time will tell if Dabo is/was the right man.As of now,I say YES.Despite his lack of head coaching experience,he has salvaged a miserable season,brought the team back together,and put a little life back into a stale program.For all that I believe he deserves a chance.After all,someone had to take a chance on Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant before they recieved thier first head coaching job.