For Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney one of the easiest questions that he has received had nothing to do with who would be the Tigers starting quarterback, how would the Tigers handle the pressure of trying to capture a fifth straight ACC Championship or will the offense be the greatest in school history.
No, the easiest question that he had was simple: You talk about the bigger picture. When you hoist a trophy, you spend time talking about God and faith and what's above everything else, not just football.
“Well, I mean, to me, that's just the priorities of my life,” Swinney said. “That's just my -- I think that I made a decision when I was 16 -- I grew up in a family that I was taught there was a God and all that, but I didn't really have a relationship with Christ until I was 16. And that was a game changer for me. That's really become the foundation of my life.
"And me personally, I don't really -- it's hard to survive and thrive in this world if you don't have a spiritual foundation and have something that you can -- that will give you peace, because life is hard, and we're all going to experience death and failure and setbacks and disappointments and cancer and -- it's just a really difficult world.”
Anyone who has had the opportunity to be around the Tigers’ head coach understand that for him the relationship that he has with God has always come first.
Because for Swinney, that relationship has helped lead him to the place that he is today.
“He's given me hope and peace, and I love Jeremiah 29:11,” Swinney said. “That’s kind of been a life verse for me. It says to give you hope in the future. There are plans for good, not disaster. And so I've always taken that, and I've kind of applied that to my life along my journey. Everybody sees me now and I'm the head coach at Clemson and this and that, but my life hasn't always been this way.”
His life began in Pelham, AL, but for Swinney it always carried the hope that no matter what he was facing that his relationship with Jesus would always provide him and his family exactly what they needed.
“If there's really hope in the future, then there's power in the present to deal with whatever mess you're dealing with in your life, to step through, to hang in there, to persevere, to continue to believe in something, and that's what my relationship with Christ did for me,” Swinney said. “It gave me a hope and a belief -- the ability to have a hope and a belief beyond my circumstances.”
“It's probably the greatest accomplishment that I have had to this point is to see my three sons come to know Christ and to know him as their Lord and savior. But those are personal decisions that people have to make, but it's just how I choose to live my life.”
While Swinney is focused on his relationship with God there is one thing that he wanted to make perfectly clear—he is not perfect, in fact he is far from perfect.
But he understands that his ultimately goal in life is to not win championship or trophies, but to live his life in a way which brings glory and honor to God.
“Trust me, people that know me know I ain't perfect, but I do try to live my life in a way that hopefully can be pleasing to my maker because I know I'm going to meet him one day, and he's not going to pat me on the back and talk about how many wins I had or how many Coach of the Year trophies we got or how much money I made,” Swinney said. “I really think he's going to hold me accountable to how I took advantage of the opportunity and the blessings that he gave me, the impact that I had on young people, the type of men that we develop through a game.
“Appreciate you asking that question. We can pass the bucket if y'all want and keep going. Didn't expect that one.”