Dabo Swinney Will ‘Never Forget’ Criticism Over His Hiring at Clemson

Dabo Swinney’s hiring paved the way for the greatest run of success in the history of the Clemson Football program.

However, at the time of his hiring, not everyone was convinced the Tigers had made the right move.

Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde, who was with ESPN at the time, graded the hire as a D+

Clemson. The hire: Swinney, who was recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach until Tommy Bowden was whacked in midseason. The grade: D-plus.
Swinney was part and parcel of a failed season, but somehow got a promotion out of the deal. Who knew that beating Duke and Virginia could lead to such ample rewards? Clemson fans loved the fact that the Tigers closed the regular season by beating rival South Carolina. But hey, Bowden beat the Gamecocks seven times in nine tries and look where that got him. Swinney has the same thing going for him that Sarkisian has at Washington: the in-conference competition in the ACC isn’t that stiff.

That is something that has stuck with Swinney throughout his coaching career, and it’s something he says he will never forget.

“I wake up every day and I see the same thing,” Swinney said recently on the Colin Cowherd Podcast. “To this day, there’s literally a graphic, I have that graphic. ESPN had me listed as a D+ hire. And I’ll never forget that, I still got it. I got it printed out, man, it was the hires of 2009. I was a D+ hire, and they basically said Clemson is crazy. Hey, I’m thankful for the plus, I can tell you that.”

Clemson is in the midst of the best run the program has ever seen. The Tigers have won six consecutive ACC Championships, made the College Football Playoff six straight times, as well as having won two national titles under the guidance of Swinney.

While the Tigers have evolved into one of the premier programs in the country and Swinney has grown into one of the best in the business, the longtime Clemson head coach said that he still sees himself as the same person he was before arriving in the upstate of South Carolina.

“What I learned in my life is to not let other people determine my worth,” Swinney said. “I learned how to live inside-out and not outside-in. That’s just how I’ve always gone about my business. People now see this successful coach and all these things, what people read in the paper, I don’t see that. I really, truly see the same kid from Pelham, Alabama, still chasing his dream every single day.”

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