MOBILE, AL – Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney joined WNSP on the Opening Kickoff Tuesday to discuss his coaching career.
Swinney started as an assistant coach at Alabama in 1995 before he became an assistant at Clemson in 2002. In 2008, he took the reigns as the head coach, where he has taken Clemson to the top, but coaching was not always what he wanted to do.
“I never really thought about coaching,” said Swinney. “I went to school to be a doctor, but I just realized that I didn’t love it.
“I wasn’t passionate about it. It wasn’t until after I finished playing. Literally, within a week of coaching, I found my calling, and I knew that was what I was supposed to do. I had no doubt.
“I still love to compete. I love being a part of a team and all that comes from being a part of the team. I fell in love with coaching right out of the gate, and I’m still as passionate about it today as I was the first day.”
Swinney has led Clemson to the NCAA College Football Playoffs for the last three years, and the Tigers won the national championship in 2016.
“We are one of those programs that has proven that we can maintain consistency,” Swinney said. “To me, it’s not all about winning national championships.
“There’s only one team that’s going to get that done each year. To be considered elite at something, you’ve got to be really good for a long period of time. I think that we have established that.”
As the head coach, Swinney has helped Clemson go from a 6-7 team in 2010 to a consistent national championship contender. But football is only part of Swinney’s job as a coach.
“I’m more proud of what we’ve done off the field,” said Swinney. “We’ve had 172 graduates, and we’ve been a top team academically 7 out of my 9 years. I’m really proud of where we are, and we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Spring training at Clemson starts next week, and Swinney spoke on his expectations from his team.
“The number one priority for us is to start over,” Swinney said. “It’s a new team.
“You don’t just pick up where you left off even if you’re a great player coming back. It’s truly important to start over and go back and reinstall the core values of your program. You can’t just be talented.
“You’ve got to have the right chemistry, the right leadership, and the right commitment. All those things are done in the offseason.”
For more, you can listen to the full interview below and tune into the Opening Kickoff weekday mornings from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.