Former Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips knew Dabo Swinney could be a great coach.

Dabo Swinney credit

I’ve been wondering what to write about Clemson after their national title. As I was thinking about what Clemson just accomplished, I was trying to comprehend just how it happened. At the helm was head coached Dabo Swinney who long ago answered questions whether he could coach at this level. I follow the Clemson program, along with Georgia Tech, closer than any other ACC programs. I’m a fan too, and I went to both schools.

I remember 2008 when Swinney was hired, and I’ll be honest I wasn’t “All In” with the hire. Clemson maybe should have been going for a bigger more established name. I didn’t think he had a enough experience  to lead a program like Clemson. Even in 2011, I wasn’t sure if Swinney was more than a recruiter. His 2012 bowl win over LSU, turned the tide for me, but it took me awhile. Back in 2008 how did former Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips know that Swinney could lead Clemson to the promised land?

I went back and found an 2008 article when Swinney was hired. Some of the quotes are almost prophetic. 

“It’s less of a gamble if you’ve been around them a long time,” Phillips said of hiring coaches. “That’s why I feel so good about Dabo. If I didn’t know Dabo, I probably wouldn’t have the same feeling. I know him, and I feel it’s less of a gamble.”

“You want to see how he coaches, how he relates,” Phillips said. “That’s ultimately what’s going to matter. There’s a lot of wonderful people that coach that are not always successful. There are some intangibles that I believe he has that are leadership intangibles.”

Dabo Swinney’s intangibles that made him great recruiter, his people skills, allowed him recognize  the type assistants and players he needed at Clemson. He’s built a culture of fun at Clemson, and changed the mindset of a entire football program.

Nick Saban has “the process”, but here’s Swinney’s with his own unique process. I guarantee young coaches from across the country will be want to understand and emulate the way Swinney’s runs Clemson. Sure Swinney took pieces from other successful programs, and he was mentored by Gene Stallings of Alabama fame, but that was his personal stamp all over Clemson.

As ESPN wrote, Clemson fans can thank former AD Terry Don Phillips. I don’t know how he knew Swinney could do this, but he did and now Clemson is celebrating a national title.

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