Dabo Swinney, head coach of the Clemson Tigers, simply does not get the credit he deserves. In the 2015-2016 season, he coached this team to a record of 14-0 (8-0 in their conference). They were ranked #1 and faced #2 Alabama in the College Football Championship. Unfortunately, they were defeated 45-40 an ended their season at 14-1.
The very next year, they finished with a record of 12-1 during the regular season. They defeated Virginia Tech in the ACC championship and then went on to defeat Ohio State for a chance to have their rematch against Alabama. In a thrilling game, the Tigers scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to come from behind and defeat the Crimson Tide 35-31. The whole world was stunned (not to mention the whole Alabama sideline) by this upset. Clemson’s QB Deshaun Watson had a night to remember; not only did he and his team outplay Alabama in the fourth, he also had some pretty impressive stats: 36/56 passing and threw for 420 yards and 3 TDs. This team was determined not to come up short the second time around.
Now they are in the 2017-2018 season, and look just as good as they had the previous two. They started their season ranked #5, then climbed up to as high as #2 after winning 3 straight, but fell to #7 after being upset by Syracuse 27-24. They would bounce back and win their next three matchups, one of them being against NC State (ranked #20 at the time). After winning their matchup against a struggling Florida State team on Saturday, the AP now has them at #4. This is an impressive position for this team to be in, considering the Tigers lost 6 players to the 2017 draft, one of them being QB Deshaun Watson. But Swinney has been able to coach junior QB Kelly Bryant and this team to success, despite some of his best players moving on to the NFL. Swinney and the Tigers are 9-1 with three games left.
It looks like a few coaches in the NFL could use some pointers from Swinney. His combination of great recruiting and great coaching has ensured his team a seat at the table for the past three seasons. In regards to coaching, I would have suggested that Mike McCarthy have a conversation with Swinney, though he did win his game against the Bears yesterday; but, it was the Bears… they were expected to win. Either way, Dabo Swinney has got it all figured out at Clemson, and people should start paying closer attention.