Publish date:

How Clemson Made The Dabo Swinney Hire Work

In college football today, schools are wanting to see instant success. The days of head coaches getting four or five years to build his program are gone. However, one needs to look no further than Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to see that patience can indeed be a virtue.

Over the years, the sport of college football has evolved greatly. At one time, the general consensus among most was that a coach needed four or five years if he was to truly be given a fair shot at building a program. 

Those days have long since past. In today's game, it seems everything is a sprint. It has become painfully obvious that most have forgotten that patience can be a virtue.

Schools want a winner on the field, and they want it now. Often we've seen coaches fired less than two years into their tenures. Some not even making to that second season. 


Fortunately for Clemson fans, that was not the case when it comes to Dabo Swinney. Although, if some had gotten their way, it very well could've been. 

With the Tigers winning at such a high level over the last five years, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that things weren't always as they are now. Remember, Swinney was hired despite having never even been a coordinator. 

After winning the Atlantic Division in his first full season on the job in 2009, Clemson fell to 6-7 the following season, ending the season with an embarrassing loss to South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. 

It was their first losing season since Tommy West's last season as head coach back in 1998.

After 2010, many had already begun to run out of patience. It was a sentiment that not only presided inside part of the fan base, but it also extended to some up the chain of command. 


CJ Spiller Clemson Media Day JP

All Clemson Exclusive: Spiller Hitting Ground Running as Recruiter

Clemson running backs coach C.J. Spiller is looking forward to finally be able to get out on the road as a recruiter now that things are starting to open back up.


ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips NIL Exclusive

Jim Phillips spoke briefly with Clemson SI after his opening question and answer segment at the ACC Media Kickoff and discussed how NIL is working, but still needs more change.

Just not high enough, according to former athletic director Terry Don Phillips.   

Phillips never wavered though. He knew he had his man. 

On top of believing in Swinney's vision for the program long term, he had seen enough of him as a wide receivers coach under Tommy Bowden to know he was the right man for the job. 


Swinney just needed time to grow into the job. At most schools, he would not have been given that time, but at Clemson, he was allowed to do just that. 

That patience paid off, and in a big way. The very next season Clemson won 10 games for the first time since 1990. 

The Tigers have gone onto win at least 10 games in every season since. That includes making the College Football Playoff every season since 2015 and winning two national titles along the way. 

The transformation at Clemson is a prime example of what can happen when everyone from the president of the university, all the way down through to the fan base, comes together in search of the same goals. 

More than that, though, Clemson is the ultimate example of what can be accomplished when the right coach is given the amount of time needed to build a program. And build that program the right way. After all, patience is indeed a virtue.