The rise of Dabo Swinney

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Emmons

The man who finally brought Clemson the National Championship in January is getting paid like it. Dabo Swinney, the Tigers’ head football coach, agreed to a contract worth $54 million dollars over eight years last week.

The contract makes Swinney the second highest paid head football coach in all of college football, behind only the man whom Swinney defeated in January. Nick Saban sits atop college football on a Crimson throne, and nobody is questioning that, but will Swinney be able to keep pace? Clemson believes so. Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher are three names Swinney surpassed with his new annual pay raise, a highly touted group of names.

The lead up to Dabo’s new contract

Anybody and everybody who watched the national championship game on January ninth this year in Tampa knows why Dabo Swinney is getting paid the way he is. For one, Swinney dethroned the defending champions and did it in dramatic fashion. A walk-off touchdown against one of the greatest dynasties in college football will do wonders in terms of a contract extension. Not only has he dethroned Alabama, but he has also developed some of the best talent in all of college football. His recruiting and developing go hand-in-hand as some of the best in the nation.

Recruiting crowned Jewels

Dabo Swinney has always been able to haul in impressive wide receiver recruits and develop them into NFL talent. His most recent project, Artavis Scott, was a four-star recruit from East Lake Florida who went on to become Clemson’s all-time leader in receptions. Mike Williams, who played alongside Scott last season, was taken in April’s NFL draft №. 7 overall to the Los Angeles Chargers. Since Swinney took over as head coach in 2009, he has not missed a beat on the recruiting trail.

Not always top 5 recruiting classes, but Dabo Swinney can develop talent

When Swinney was first named the Clemson head coach in 2009, he did not have a full recruiting cycle under his belt — so that will not count in this breakdown. In 2010, Swinney’s first full recruiting class, he landed the 27th ranked class in the nation which was up nine spots from the previous year of 36. Martavis Bryant was the prized possession in that class. Swinney didn’t stop there as he snagged future pro bowl wide receiver Sammy Watkins in 2011, which gave him the 10th best recruiting class in the nation.

In 2012, he hauled in a key piece to the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 national championship runs, as Shaq Lawson brought the 20th best recruiting class to Clemson. Ben Boulware, the loudmouth heart of last year’s championship-winning defense, came in for Swinney in 2013, which capped off the 15th best recruiting class that year. Deshaun Watson was the centerpiece for the next three years. He came to campus in 2014 to reward Swinney with the 16th best class. In 2015, Clemson had the ninth best recruiting class.

In 2016, Dexter Lawrence, the №. 2 overall recruit in his class, committed to Clemson which gave the Tigers the 11th best class. For the 2017 year, Clemson finished with the 16th best class. Swinney is off to another top-15 recruiting haul this year with two, 2018 five-star commitments in Trevor Lawrence and Xavier Thomas.

Swinney’s Alabama roots

Not many people know that Dabo Swinney was born and raised in Alabama. Not only was he born there, but he played football there as well. Swinney played football at the University of Alabama for three years in college as a walk-on wide receiver. He later earned a scholarship, but still didn’t see much of the field. Swinney collected seven passes for 81-yards in his career, and actually won the national championship with the Crimson Tide in 1992 (ironic).

After receiving his degree at Alabama, Swinney immediately began coaching for the Tide until 2001. He took a couple years off after being let go from his job at Alabama until 2003, when he took over as recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach for Clemson. These were Swinney’s specialties early on in his career, which should come as no shock now — having recruited, coached and developed some of the best receivers in college football and the NFL.

Dabo can only ascend from here

Dabo Swinney is only 47-years old and he has already compiled a record of 89–28 in his tenure at Clemson. He has a positive bowl record of 7–4, and has won three ACC championships. Making back-to-back national championship appearances is a great feat, nonetheless against a dynasty like the Crimson Tide. Swinney has proved that he can hang with college football’s greatest, defeating Florida State in consecutive years, Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl two years ago, and topping №3 Louisville last year. Not to mention if he keeps beating the breaks off of rival South Carolina the way he does, he will be at Clemson for a long time. Dabo Swinney is worth every penny.