Head Football Coach
2008 - Present
At age 40, Dabo Swinney is the youngest head coach in the ACC and one of the youngest in the country, but he has handled his first full season as Clemson's head coach like an old veteran. During the 2009 season, he led the Tigers to their first championship of the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Tigers came just six points short of winning their first ACC title in 18 years. Swinney was second in the voting for ACC Coach-of-the-Year and was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach-of-the-Year award.
Swinney accumulated nine wins, second-most among all FBS coaches in their first full year behind Oregon's Chip Kelly. The nine wins tied for fourth-most in ACC history for a first-year head coach. He also led the Tigers' to their first bowl win since 2005 in the 21-13 victory over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.
Swinney's first victory as a head coach took place in his first-ever road game on November 1. Despite committing four turnovers and trailing in the fourth quarter, his troops rallied for a 27-21 win, giving Clemson its first win over the Eagles since 1958. It also came against the eventual ACC Atlantic Division champion.
The Tigers suffered a 41-27 defeat at #24 Florida State a week later, but they rebounded to trounce Duke 31-7 at Memorial Stadium by outgaining the Blue Devils 466-168 under Swinney, who also served as offensive coordinator during the second half of 2008. Clemson showed its road prowess the following weekend by claiming a 13-3 victory at Virginia and veteran Cavaliers Head Coach Al Groh.
Rival South Carolina awaited for the final regular-season game. Against one of the SEC's best defenses, the Tigers used a balanced attack (184 rushing yards, 199 passing yards) to top the Gamecocks 31-14 at Memorial Stadium. Clemson also had four interceptions against Steve Spurrier's offense and held it to just 22-47 passing for 212 yards. The following week, the Tigers accepted an invitation to play in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska, a game in which the Cornhuskers were victorious by a score of 26-21.
The 1993 Alabama graduate joined the Clemson staff prior to the 2003 season. In his seven years, the Tigers have finished in the top 25 of the final polls four times and totaled 10 wins over top-25 teams, including victories over Florida State (4), Miami (FL) (1), and Tennessee (1), during his tenure in Tigertown.
The Alabama native has a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation. In 2006, he was listed as the #5 recruiter in the nation by Rivals.com. It marked the second straight year that he was lauded by the website as a top-25 national recruiter. He signed 38 players in his five recruiting seasons and was a major reason Clemson's 2008 recruiting class was rated #2 in the nation by ESPN.com when he signed 11 players. He was named one of the top-25 recruiters in the nation by Rivals.com in 2007 as well.
From April of 2001 through February of 2003, Swinney was in private business in Alabama. He married the former Kathleen Bassett in 1994. They have three sons, Will (11), Drew (9), and Clay (6).