Dabo Swinney Downplays LSU Buzz: Clemson Is 'Only Death Valley I'm Concerned About'

Erin WalshOctober 19, 2021

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney looks at his play card during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Boston College Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney isn't concerned about the possibility that LSU athletic director Scott Woodward could pursue him to replace Ed Orgeron. 

"I'm a big time, coach? Wow! I made a big-time list? Wow," Swinney joked Tuesday, per The Athletic. "Yeah, this is the only Death Valley I'm concerned about right here. That's for sure."

Swinney has been speculated to be a potential LSU head-coaching candidate, with Orgeron and the Tigers agreeing to part ways following the 2021 season. 

Woodward has made some pretty impressive moves in his tenure as an athletic director. He pried Jimbo Fisher from Florida State to Texas A&M and also lured Chris Peterson from Boise State while at Washington.

It's hard to imagine Swinney wanting to leave Clemson, though. The 51-year-old is 144-35 since taking over as head coach of the Tigers in 2008. He has also won two national championships 

Swinney has also been linked to being Nick Saban's successor at Alabama, even though Saban recently extended his contract through 2028. Swinney graduated from Alabama and was an assistant under former head coach Gene Stallings. However, he has frequently denied any significant interest in leaving Clemson. 

Clemson is 4-2 this season following a season-opening loss to Georgia. The Tigers haven't lost more than two games in a season since 2014. 

Clemson made Swinney college football's highest-paid coach (at the time) in 2019, giving him a 10-year, $93 million contract. The deal runs through 2028-29. 

Orgeron and the Tigers agreed to part ways following a disappointing 4-3 start to the 2021 season. The post-Joe Burrow era has been especially rough for LSU with the Tigers going 5-5 in 2020 and 9-8 overall after winning the national championship in 2019. 

Before 2020, LSU hadn't lost five games in a season since 2014 when Les Miles was head coach. Orgeron is the fourth-winningest coach in LSU history, and his 74.2 winning percentage ranks among the top five in school history. 

In addition to Swinney, Fisher and Lousiana's Billy Napier have denied interest in LSU's head coaching job. However, that could change once the 2021 campaign is over.