Swinney: Coaching a ‘brotherhood’
The Charlotte 49ers will have their hands full when they face off against No. 1 Clemson this Saturday at Memorial Stadium, but regardless of the outcome and the hype surrounding the game — the outside chance for a historic upset, a young program’s first major nationally televised game, the Tigers’ 18-game winning streak — coaches on both sides of the ball will no doubt use the game as a learning opportunity for their players.
While coaches are integral to the progression of players on the field, coaches often help other coaches hone their craft. Charlotte head coach Will Healy has considered Clemson coach Dabo Swinney a mentor of sorts the last few years during his time at Austin Peay and now at Charlotte.
Swinney said this week that he was excited to greet Healy in the run-up to the game against Charlotte.
"He reached out to me a year or two ago when he was at Austin Peay,” Swinney said. “He just called, and we talked about different things and some candidates he wanted to talk about for his staff. We have communicated some along the way.
“He's done a heck of a job. He is a sharp coach. He gets the job up at Charlotte, and I talked to him some through that transition. He hired one of my guys. He is a guy who will do a good job there. They will recruit well. He's got good energy. He sent me a text yesterday that his 4-year-old has been watching Clemson hype videos all week. A super nice guy."
Healy, 34, started as head coach at Austin Peay in 2016. After finishing 0-11 in his first year with the team, Healy turned the program around to finish at 8-4 in his second year before going 5-6 last season. Healy was then hired at Charlotte and opened 2019 with a 2-1 record, posting wins against Gardner-Webb and UMass.
Healy told 247Sports that Swinney has made himself accessible to ask questions and offer advice.
“I’ve picked his brain a lot, and it’s been interesting the fact that we haven’t spent a bunch of time together” Healy said about Swinney. "For the last three or four years, I’ve always been able to call him and ask him a question, and he’s always been very honest. He’s always called me back and never been afraid to share. Even though we play this year, he was a wide open book."
Swinney said that even if coaches are adversaries on the football field, they can be collaborators in sharing information and in-game strategies.
“It's a brotherhood,” Swinney said. “Coaches meet and share stuff. It's really unique. It's fascinating to me when we do our clinic (a high school clinic held at Clemson). You walk in here, and there is a high school coach and another one, and they're rivals, but they're swapping ideas.”
He said coaches who were willing to share what they have learned with others were good for the game of football.
“I'm just thankful that there were opportunities over the years to learn and grow,” Swinney said about his time as a young coach. “I've been around a lot of people and a lot of different coaches who were willing to mentor me and answer questions and offer advice. I'm honored that someone would even ask me my opinion on something. I think Will is one of those guys who is great for this profession.”