What a difference 25 years makes.
When he was a walk-on wide receiver at Alabama, Dabo Swinney was a largely anonymous rotational player. On Saturday, he'll be back -- and he'll be the second-most famous person in the stadium.
The Crimson Tide are honoring their 1992 national championship team -- the Tide's only national championship in the 30 years between The Bear and Nick Saban -- and Dabo will be in attendance. Clemson hosts Syracuse on Friday night, giving Dabo a rare free in-season Saturday.
The visit will be notable for two reasons:
1) Dabo denied Alabama a national championship just last season.
2) As an alum, Dabo has made no secret that he wouldn't turn down the Alabama job. He's never said anything to suggest he's unhappy at Clemson -- but he's not ruling out the Alabama job, either.
"First of all, anybody that would even say that or suggest that, I'm humbled by that and certainly appreciate that anybody would even think that way, that they would want me to be a candidate for a job like Alabama," Swinney said in an appearance on Kirk Herbstreit's podcast last month. "But that's just kind of the fandom. People just naturally make connections and things like that and they never really consider all factors. I've always said 'you never say never,' because you have no idea what the dynamics are going to be. Ten years from now, Alabama may call me and want me to come to Alabama, and the Clemson people may hate me at that point. I don't know. I may have a terrible president or a terrible AD. There's dynamics that can change. I'm always just focused on being great where I'm at and blooming where I'm planted."
Things can always change, but as of now Dabo looks every bit like the top choice to replace Nick Saban, and Alabama is the one job that would make Clemson sweat.
Related to that, Clemson isn't sending Dabo to Tuscaloosa alone.
Each of those Clemson staffers has their own ties to Alabama, but, c'mon.