In His Own Words: Dabo Swinney Recalls First Game as Head Coach

Zach Lentz

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was not always the highest-paid coach in college football history. 

No.

In this episode of "In His Own Words," Swinney recalls his very first game as the Tigers' head coach.

"Well, you know, my first game as a head coach I was made the head coach on a Monday, and I may not be the best guy to ask that question because most of the time when you get a job it's after the season and you've had the spring and the offseason to really kind of develop your culture or get some things started and get to know your guys as the head coach and kind of pull it all together.

"For me, I came to work on a Monday, and now you're the head coach and you're playing on Saturday. My memories are a blur from that particular week. But I think the biggest thing to me was just trying to inspire and motivate those guys and get them to buy in to that moment and what we were trying to do, that the rest of the season could be the best of the season. Again, my situation was a little different. There was a lot of things concerning me going into my first game with about three days to get ready for Paul Johnson, the first time we'd seen the triple option. You've got GA's now as full-time guys, totally different roles for everybody, and you do it in three days.

"It was a very daunting challenge that particular week, but probably the most that sticks out to me the most is because the week was such a blur in trying to get things ready, the moment for me was probably when I got off the bus at the top of the hill for the first time ever and approach Howard's Rock. I had never done that. I'd always been on the field, and that was an unbelievable moment for me that I'll never forget and kind of the culmination of that week.

"And then when we started the tiger walk that week, we'd never done that before, and when we showed up and there was about 15,000 people there, it was just an amazing moment."

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Christopher Hall
Christopher Hall

I'll never forget that week. I was a little ole high schooler and getting my feet wet in journalism as I was job shadowing Will Vandervort that semester. He was the Sports Editor of The (Seneca) Journal at the time. I got to tag along for the game that week and got to meet several of the big names in local sports media I had looked up to at that point.


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