There is an old, time tested adage, “idle minds are the devil’s hands” and in my case, they’re also dangerous things. This rambling is the proof positive of such a mind.
I know, the inevitability of this eventuality is further down the path. Yet, after watching Mike Krzyzewski’s emotional farewell to Duke Basketball, I was moved and struck with the reality, one day Dabo Swinney will retire, or maybe even leave.
Swinney’s vision, his energy, his devotion to his program, his team and yes, to Clemson University, will be virtually impossible to duplicate but clearly, it will happen.
Swinney’s and Clemson’s relationship is both symbiotic and synergistic. One fuels the other and the sum of the whole, is much greater than it’s two parts. The fan base understands this and looks down the path to that inevitable bittersweet day.
Hopefully, this is an event that will be years down the road. I know he’ll most probably be at Clemson until 2026 when his youngest son, Clay graduates. After that, it’s all hinged on Swinney’s desire to either continue to coach at the program he’s basically built from the ground up, move to another job, or just quietly retire. Knowing Swinney, that last one isn’t possible. He’s larger than life, gregarious and does little quietly.
For a moment, imagine that day, standing in the bright sun, on the 50 yard line, Death Valley filled to capacity, Swinney takes the microphone and begins his emotional goodbye/farewell speech. I suspect even the usually glib Swinney, will find the words hard to come by but never fear, he’ll find them. He always does.
That’s the reality of his and Clemson’s future relationship. Despite the pain of this inevitable event, it’s important to remember the old adage, “don’t cry because it’s over just smile because it happened.”
So, just like every legendary, longtime successful coach, Swinney will be revered and remembered. He and the Clemson fans will always, in some way or another, continue their relationship. That’s what loving, large families do, love each other.
Clemson loves their head coach and Swinney loves Clemson. Don’t believe it? Then, go to the Clemson Forest, look for the biggest oak and there is a carved heart with those words whittled in its center.
Painful, yes. Emotional, yes. However, take heart, he’s here now and that’s comforting. This situation is probably years away and I believe both Swinney and Clemson have a lot more mountains to scale. One day another old but wise adage will sum it up perfectly. “Parting is such a sweet sorrow.”
While one cannot view a future event, one can look to the past to find something comparable. Here is a video, taken during the 2013 Ring of Honor ceremony where the Clemson Family honored another legendary coach, Danny Ford. Just try to imagine ten times this amount of love and adoration. Enjoy.
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