In a press conference on Monday, Dabo Swinney began to tear up as he realized what just happened.
Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips had just put the orange jacket on Swinney's back. He had received the head coaching job at Clemson University.
This choice definitely became more obvious when Swinney defeated the University of South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday. But Phillips did not have to pick Swinney.
Phillips interviewed many people, from ex-NFL head coach Lane Kiffin (who is recently reported to have accepted Tennessee's head coaching position) to Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Bud Foster, who have had experience as coordinators and coaches.
Swinney has had none of this experience. But a look at the Tigers' performance in the last six games, and you can see Phillips had no choice but to pick Swinney, whose contract is reported to be for five years.
Senior wide receiver Aaron Kelly is averaging one more catch and 64 more yards per game under Swinney. Quarterback Cullen Harper is playing better despite going up against tougher defenses. Running back C.J. Spiller has emerged as a receiving threat, catching as many touchdown passes as Kelly and Jacoby Ford.
Ultimately, Swinney has turned a team around that looked down and out for the season. The Tigers have won four of the last five, including an offensive breakout game against South Carolina, to qualify for a bowl game. The players have attached themselves to Swinney's "make-no-excuses" approach, and have proved themselves a valiant team.
Maybe most importantly, Swinney has embraced the fans. He opened a practice to Clemson students and began the Tiger Walk to help them and the fans feel a part of the team. He gets fired up along the sidelines during games, congratulating players and coaches.
In only six games, Dabo has rallied the fans around the team and gotten them excited about Clemson football again.
If Terry Don Phillips did not pick Swinney to be Clemson's head coach, the backlash from the fans would be severe. In just seven short weeks, Swinney has shown fans that the appreciation they give week in and week out is never in vain, and that the Tigers will always fight to the end.
Imagine what he can do in five years.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!