Dabo Swinney is just halfway into his second full season at Clemson. He’s 16-11 as the Tigers head coach, has won the Atlantic Division Title, is 1-1 against his rival, 1-1 in Bowl games, has recruited well and has run a clean program. No, that isn’t cause to build a Dabo statue next to Howards Rock, but it should be enough to keep the man from having to defend himself and his program after each loss.
So what gives? Why are people having such a hard time getting on board? Is it because he lacks coaching experience? Is it because he and a good portion of his staff are directly connected to the Tommy Bowden era?
I think certainly those two issues are factors, but it still seems like Swinney gets more grief than any second year coach coming off a division title than any coach in history. He is forced to remind people that he has made progress in his short time as head coach.
“Nobody has lined up and whipped us,” Swinney said. There is a difference between losing and getting beat. There’s a big difference. There’s a difference between winning and beating people. We’ve lost some games that we’re not happy about but we haven’t lost to a bad team. We haven’t lost a game we were favored to win.”
Listening to Dabo talk, you would think he was coming off a 4 win season and the program was in shambles. Yeah, by and large Swinney is still an unproven commodity, but he has done nothing to make you think he’s in over his head or doesn’t know what he’s doing. Sure he’s made mistakes, what coach hasn’t though? Imagine for a moment if Swinney, not Steve Spurrier, had been the coach on the sideline during USC’s loss to Kentucky last week? Clemson fans would be calling for his head. I can’t think of many games Swinney has bungled away, yet he is still forced to defend himself.
“I know we are going to be successful, Swinney said. “ I know I am going to be successful. I hope Clemson will hang in there with me. I hope they hang in there, cause we’re gonna get it done and we are gonna win. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
I’ll refrain from making an “ALL IN” reference right now. I will just say Clemson fans should relax and give their head coach more than a season and a half to prove what kind of job he will do. No, Dabo Swinney hasn’t lit the world on fire, but he certainly hasn’t given anyone any reason to light a fire under his seat.