Woody McCorvey: The man behind Swinney

Zach Lentz

Woody McCorvey has been a significant part of the two greatest eras in Tiger football. In the 1980s he was on the staff of hall of fame coach Danny Ford, and helped Clemson to a 60-19-3 record, three ACC titles and four bowl wins. He was on the staff of five Clemson teams that finished in the final top 20 of the AP poll.

Now, McCorvey is back at Clemson, and Dabo Swinney would be the first to say how important he has been in contributing to Clemson’s recent run of eight straight seasons of 10+ wins and a final top-25 finish.

“I said, ‘Woody, I need you to come and be by my side. I don’t want you to coach a position; I want you to help me coach life. I want you to help me run the program,’ ” Swinney recalled during his acceptance speech for the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award in January.

“He is my national security advisor,” said Swinney. “My experience with him dates to my days as a player at Alabama when he was my position coach. He coached at Clemson in the 1980s under Danny Ford and knows all about our winning tradition. He has been a part of 14 conference title teams in his impressive career.”

The 2019 season is his 42nd in college football as either a coach or an administrator. He came back to Clemson for the 2009 season, Swinney’s first full year, and he has helped him bring the Tigers to a level of consistent excellence that culminated in national championships following the 2016 and 2018 seasons.

With Ford’s induction in 2017, McCorvey has now worked for three coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame. He has also been in significant coaching roles with Gene Stallings and Phil Fulmer. He has worked for four national championship coaches in Ford, Fulmer, Stallings and Swinnney.

“I knew I needed to have an extra set of eyes and ears to help me build a program from a day-to-day basis,” Swinney said. “We just did not really have a big infrastructure here. Not only did I have to have someone, but I needed somebody that I could trust. Somebody that knew me and knew how I thought. He was the perfect fit for that.”

Swinney has a 112-27 record as head coach since McCorvey joined his staff. That includes seven wins over top-10 teams in bowl games the last seven years. The Tigers have won five ACC titles, seven division titles and posted nine bowl wins in just 10 years, more bowl wins than any other Clemson coach in history.

“He is a guy that has always believed in me,” Swinney said. “That’s number one. And then, he is a guy that I trust.”

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