Dabo Swinney: So Much More Than A Football Coach

It was an August Day in 2016, the 19th to be exact. It was the day before my Grandaddy Green’s 90th Birthday party, and my cousin and I set out on a trip to Clemson. What for you ask? Well, my Grandaddy was the person that taught me everything I knew about Clemson.

So this trip was taken to try and honor him. I sent Dabo’s assistant a request form the week before, asking for a video from Dabo telling my Grandaddy, a WWII vet, longtime Fire Chief in the town and county we live in, and lifelong Tiger, Happy Birthday but had not gotten it yet.

My cousin Wayne and I, had a brilliant plan the night before. We would leave out around lunchtime, drive up, stop by the Fire Dept, then go catch Dabo and Deshaun Watson after practice.

The plan was going perfectly. We first stopped at the Clemson Fire Dept on Perimeter Rd and got the fire-fighters there to do a video with myself telling Grandaddy Happy Birthday. They were happy to do it.

Our next stop was at the practice facility, just down the road, where we planned originally to try to catch both Dabo and DW4, just to see if they would let me get a video of them saying Happy Birthday. As things would go, we found out on the way there that Dabo’s assistant had emailed the video of him that I requested, so we then decided to wait for DW4.

While waiting outside of the facility, we saw Dabo come out after practice. As he was walking by me to go talk to the media about their preparation for Auburn, I told him I wanted to thank him for the video he did for my Grandaddy.

He asked me who my Grandaddy was. I proceeded to tell him it was Van….he stopped me before I could go any further. He then said….Van Green, right? I replied that he was right. He then stated. “He’s a WWII vet turning 90 yrs old and a lifelong Tiger, right?” I said yes. He then looked at me and said to please tell Mr Van “thank you for his service, I hope he has a wonderful birthday!”

Click here to see video

We were able to later catch DW4 outside of the stadium locker room and get a video from him for Grandaddy’s birthday, but the real story was that of Dabo. He remembered exactly who a 90 year old WWII Veteran, Fire Fighter, and Southern Democrat from Turbeville, SC was without having to be told or given notes. Especially at a time when the team was getting ready for a run at his first National Championship.

Let there be no doubt. I have met Dabo many times at the IPTAY dinners and have always had the utmost respect for how he carries himself and represents our program, but I gained so much more respect for him that afternoon. He knew who my Grandaddy was even when he did not have to. He showed this by giving details that he did not have to give and just that made my trip up even more special than it already was.

We, as fans, see what Dabo does in the media and the things he does when in the public eye. We also get to see what he has done at Clemson achievement wise, both on and off of the field. However, stories like mine are what makes our coach special, and makes us so fortunate to have him as the face of this program.

This story is written in memory of my my Grandaddy, Coy Evander “Van” Green, Sr, who went on to be with the LORD just a few weeks before his 91st Birthday, but got a great gift from the Coach he felt was as good as Danny Ford.