This Saturday marks the 10-year anniversary of Dabo Swinney getting Clemson’s head coaching job. That anniversary may have crept up on you like it did me, but it didn’t surprise Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Staples.
Andy wrote a great story on the events of Oct. 13, 2008 that saw Tommy Bowden resign as Clemson’s head coach and Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips name a wide receivers coach with more experience as a commercial real estate salesman than experience running an offense or an entire team as the Tigers’ interim head coach, and the process that led Swinney to keeping the job for, well, a full decade now.
I’m not going to spoil the full story for you, but involves some fascinating hypotheticals — okay, I’ll spoil one: Dabo working for Nick Saban? — but I will share this: the underlying theme of how Dabo got the interim job was that he started preparing himself for the opportunity long before it existed.
“Had I not been prepared to be a head coach—as prepared as you can be—then this opportunity would have passed me by,” Swinney says. And had he not thrown himself into his job coaching receivers and spent his time pining for a coordinator gig, then Phillips might not have offered the opportunity in the first place. “If your job is to go get the doughnuts, man, you bring the freshest doughnuts and the hottest coffee,” Swinney says. “And you do it in a way that everybody notices. ‘That guy gets the best doughnuts in the history of the doughnut business.’ And that’s just how you have to do things.”