It was just over a month ago that I wrote an article arguing that Dabo Swinney should retain the Clemson coaching job after this season. Today, he virtually assured himself the job, with a 31-14 beatdown of instate rival South Carolina.
Swinney has won four of his last five games and brought Clemson to bowl eligibility after a 3-4 record at mid-season. More importantly, today he took the first steps to the heart of any Clemson fan by beating South Carolina.
As the game wound down and the crowd at Death Valley chanted Da-bo Swin-ney, I took a look at the two coaches across the field from each other. What I found surprised and excited me.
On one sideline, I found an old coach, a man who was brilliant in his day, but who never should have left Florida. I saw a man who quit on his team by never switching to a no-huddle offense and refusing to use any of his three time outs.
I saw Steve Spurrier, a man too proud to ever look desperate for a win and a man tired of coaching his failing team.
On the Clemson sidelines, there was Dabo Swinney. He ran up and down the sidelines, coaching players up and calling them down. He was never too proud to show enthusiasm or afraid of looking foolish. Swinney looked like he had bled Clemson orange his entire life and finally had the opportunity to coach there.
In this comparison, I found the true reason why I want Dabo Swinney as Clemson’s next head coach. In a flashy or big name coaching hire, there is a danger that the coach and school will remain separate entities.
Since big-name Spurrier arrived at Carolina, I have never really considered him a Gamecock. His big name and big history have kept his persona and the Gamecock nation from mixing like oil and vinegar.
That’s why I want Dabo Swinney as Clemson’s next head coach. I want the guy with the coaching talent who is willing to become the face of a program and prepared to grow alongside the program.
Many fans want a flashy hire, but how often do flashy hires really work out? How many more times does a legendary coach rise up from within a program?
I, for one, will eagerly await the announcement of Dabo Swinney as the permanent head coach and hope that he will retain his enthusiasm for the game and lead Clemson to great things.