Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site
Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site

Dabo Swinney

Position: Head Coach



Lettered three years at Alabama (1990-92); also a member of the 1989 team … member of the 1992 National Championship team … Academic All-SEC and SEC Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll member in 1990,92.

1990 Sugar Bowl … 1991 Blockbuster Bowl … 1991 Fiesta Bowl … 1993 Sugar Bowl.

B.S. degree in commerce & business administration from Alabama in 1993 … master of business administration from Alabama in 1995.

Graduate assistant coach at Alabama (1993-95) … wide receivers/tight ends at Alabama (1996) … tight ends at Alabama (1997) … wide receivers at Alabama (1998-00) … wide receivers at Clemson (2003-06) … assistant head coach/wide receivers at Clemson (2007 – Oct. 13, 2008) … interim head coach/offensive coordinator at Clemson (Oct. 13 – Dec. 1, 2008) … head coach at Clemson (2009-17).

1994 Gator Bowl … 1995 Citrus Bowl … 1997 Outback Bowl … 1998 Music City Bowl … 2000 Orange Bowl … 2004 Peach Bowl … 2005 Champs Sports Bowl … 2006 Music City Bowl … 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl.

2009 Gator Bowl … 2009 Music City Bowl … 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl … 2012 Orange Bowl … 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl … 2014 Orange Bowl … 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl … 2015 Orange Bowl … 2015 CFP National Championship Game … 2016 Fiesta Bowl … 2016 CFP National Championship Game … 2018 Sugar Bowl.

101-30 (.771) in 10 seasons (nine full seasons) at Clemson … 61-16 (.792) in ACC regular-season games at Clemson … 4-1 (.800) in ACC Championship Games at Clemson … 7-5 (.583) in bowl games at Clemson.

Born Nov. 20, 1969 in Birmingham, Ala. … married to the former Kathleen Bassett … the couple has three sons (Will, Drew, Clay).



There is a strong coaching heritage over the 121 years of Clemson football that dates to the early 1900s, when John Heisman led the program. Jess Neely, Frank Howard and Danny Ford continued the winning and joined Heisman in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Dabo Swinney has been at Clemson for just 10 years as head coach, but he cemented himself as a coaching legend when he led the Tigers to the 2016 national championship, the second in school history (1981).

The Tigers maintained that elite status in 2017 despite having only six scholarship seniors and losing most of their offensive firepower from 2016. The 2017 season might be the best for Swinney, who was a finalist for the AP, Bear Bryant, Dodd, Eddie Robinson and George Munger Coach-of-the-Year Awards. That is saying something for someone who has been named national coach-of-the-year by at least one service four of the previous six years.

Offensively, Swinney had to replace players who accounted for 77 percent of the offense during the 2016 national championship season.

While Clemson was ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP poll, few expected the Tigers to be ranked No. 1 in both polls and the College Football Playoff ranking entering the bowl season. In fact, Clemson was not even the preseason choice to win the ACC Atlantic Division. But the Tigers won that title for the third year in a row (a first for the program since 1986-88).

Despite the setback in the Sugar Bowl to the eventual national champion, Alabama, Clemson finished ranked No. 4 in both polls. Swinney joined Bobby Bowden as the only ACC head coaches to lead a program to a final top-five ranking three straight years. After the season, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Clemson’s school-record six wins over top-25 teams, also a national best, included a school-record four on opponents’ home fields and five away from home. Clemson defeated top-15 teams Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech in September, the first team in FBS history to record three top-15 wins in September.

While many focused on the play of the offense, led by quarterback Kelly Bryant, the defense was once again among the nation’s best. The front four featured three players who earned first-team All-America honors. All four made at least one all-conference team.

The defense featured four players who were named All-American, and they were a big reason Clemson was in the top four in the nation in scoring defense (No. 2) and total defense (No. 4). Clemson led the ACC in the four major defensive categories (scoring, total, rushing, passing), something it had never done.

Clemson defeated the top-two teams in the national polls in consecutive games in the College Football Playoff at the end of the 2016 season. The Tigers blanked Ohio State 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl, the first shutout suffered by head coach Urban Meyer in his career and the first for Ohio State since 1993.

The Tigers then earned a rematch with No. 1 Alabama, and for the first time in school history took down the top-ranked team in a second epic battle with the Crimson Tide. Deshaun Watson’s touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left gave Clemson a 35-31 win in Tampa, Fla. Swinney won the Bear Bryant Award as national coach-of-the-year for the second consecutive season.

With a preseason No. 2 national ranking, the 2016 Tigers lived up to the hype after compiling a 14-1 record and earning a spot in the College Football Playoff for the second-straight year. Along the way, Clemson knocked off five top-25 foes, including No. 3 Louisville. The Tigers exorcised several road demons, winning at historically tough places Auburn, Georgia Tech and Florida State.

Swinney coached Watson to two record-setting seasons. The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist became the first player in FBS history to total 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season in 2015, and he followed by setting an ACC record with 41 passing touchdowns in 2016.

Watson was named ACC Player-of-the-Year in 2015 and MVP of the ACC Championship Game in both 2015 and 2016. He won the Davey O’Brien Award and Manning Award in back-to-back seasons and was named MVP of Clemson’s Fiesta Bowl and national championship game wins.

From 2011-17, Clemson compiled an 82-15 record, the most wins in a seven-year period in school history. Fifty-three of the victories came against ACC teams. The 2017 seniors had a school and ACC-record 50 wins as well.

Clemson was in the top 10 of APR scores and the final top 25 of the AP and USA Today polls from 2011-15, the only FBS program that could make that claim. In 2017, Clemson became the first school to reach the College Football Playoff and finish in the top five of APR scores in the same year.

In 10 years (nine full seasons) as the Tigers’ head coach, Swinney has directed Clemson to a 101-30 overall record (.771, best by a Tiger coach) and 61-16 ACC regular-season mark (.792). He has also led the Tigers to the ACC Championship Game five times, won four ACC titles, won or shared six ACC Atlantic Division titles and won seven bowl games (five against top-10 teams). His teams have compiled 26 wins over ranked teams in his head-coaching career, including 13 over top-10 opponents.

Swinney guided Clemson to the No. 1 national ranking in every College Football Playoff poll in 2015 and led the Tigers to their first national championship game appearance under the new format after his team defeated Oklahoma 37-17 in the 2015 Orange Bowl. The Tigers led Alabama in the fourth quarter of the championship contest, but came up just short (45-40) in an epic game in Glendale, Ariz.

Following the team’s 14-1 record and No. 2 final ranking, he was the recipient of 10 national and two ACC coach-of-the-year honors. The Tigers defeated four teams that finished the season in the top 15 of both polls.

In 2015, a Tiger-record 17 players were named to one of three All-ACC teams, including all five starting offensive linemen for the first time in school history. In 2016, 15 players were honored, including a school-record three First-Team All-ACC offensive line selections.

The 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons were also noteworthy, with three top-15 final rankings. Clemson joined Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon as the only schools in the nation to make that claim. Each of Clemson’s teams from 2011-17 also registered double-digit victories, the first time the program did it seven straight seasons. Only Alabama has duplicated the feat.

With the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl victory (40-6) over Oklahoma, Swinney became the first and only coach in history to win three bowl games in consecutive seasons over teams whose head coaches had previously won the national title. He upped that mark to five years in a row in 2016.

Clemson capped off the 2013 season with a thrilling 40-35 victory over No. 6 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. Clemson had an 11-2 record after finishing 7-1 in ACC regular-season games. It marked Clemson’s first back-to-back 11-win seasons in school history. For the fourth time in his first five full seasons as head coach, Swinney was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual National Coach-of-the-Year award in 2013.

The 2012 season (11-2) was a groundbreaking year for Swinney’s Tigers when looking at the overall consistency of the program. The seven conference wins in the regular season were then a school record, while Clemson was co-champion of the ACC Atlantic Division.

With Clemson’s thrilling 25-24 win over No. 7 Louisiana State in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Tigers finished the season ranked No. 9 in the USA Today poll. It was Clemson’s first top-10 finish in one of the two major polls since 1990. Clemson also reached the 11-win mark for the first time since its 1981 national championship season. The Tigers finished No. 14 in the final BCS standings as well.

Swinney’s 2011 squad, which ended the season ranked No. 22 in the nation, captured Clemson’s first ACC title since 1991 when it beat No. 3 Virginia Tech 38-10 in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, N.C. The Tigers’ second win over the Hokies in 2011 gave Clemson its first 10-win season since 1990.

For his efforts, Swinney was named Bobby Dodd National Coach-of-the-Year in 2011 to become the first Tiger head coach to win a national coach-of-the-year award since 1981, when Ford directed Clemson to the national title.

Swinney became just the second Tiger coach to lead Clemson’s program to a bowl game in his first two full years as head coach, joining his predecessor, Tommy Bowden. The 2010 schedule was one of the most challenging in school history, as nine bowl teams were on the regular-season slate and two of the four non-conference opponents were ranked in the top 25.

In 2009, Swinney’s first full year as head coach, he led the Tigers to their first championship of the ACC Atlantic Division. The Tigers came just six points short of winning their first ACC title in 18 years. Swinney was named ACC coach-of-the-year by Sporting News and was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach-of-the-Year award.

In October 2008, Swinney was named Clemson’s interim head coach, replacing Bowden, who had been his position coach as a player at Alabama and was Clemson’s head coach since 1999. He led the Tigers to a 4-2 record during the remainder of the 2008 regular season, including a win over South Carolina in the regular-season finale. That strong finish led to a Gator Bowl bid against Nebraska.

On Dec. 1, 2008, the interim tag was removed from the title and he was named the program’s head coach. At the time, there had been 28 interim head coaches at the FBS level since 1970, and those coaches had combined for a record of 26-86-2. Only one of those 28 interim coaches posted a winning record, and that was Swinney. When he was hired as head coach, he became just the second interim coach to be elevated to the head coach position at the same school during that time period.

Swinney hit the ground running in his first week as interim head coach, as he prepared for a 5-1 Georgia Tech team. He had to reorganize his staff and regroup his team and the fanbase in just five days. While the Tigers lost by four points, he accomplished many goals in that first week through his outstanding leadership. One of the most impressive demonstrations of unity came during the team’s “Tiger Walk.”

Swinney has demonstrated his community involvement through Dabo’s All In Team Foundation, which made the first contribution to the cancer fund established for former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. Many schools followed his lead during the remainder of the season.

The 1993 Alabama graduate joined the Clemson staff prior to the 2003 season. In his first 15 years as an assistant or head coach, the Tigers finished in the top 25 of the polls 11 times and totaled 29 wins over top-25 teams, including victories over Florida State (7), Virginia Tech (3), Auburn (2), Miami (Fla.) (2), Ohio State (2), Oklahoma (2), Alabama (1), Georgia (1), Louisiana State (1) and Tennessee (1) during his tenure in Tigertown.

Swinney coached his wide receiver position to a level of consistency that had not been seen previously at Clemson. He had a wideout finish first or second in the ACC in catches in five of his six years as an assistant coach. In his first year, he had three of the top-10 receivers in the ACC, a first in Tiger history. He has coached a First or Second-Team All-ACC wideout (Derrick Hamilton, Airese Currie, Chansi Stuckey, Aaron Kelly, Jacoby Ford, Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Artavis Scott, Mike Williams) in 13 of his 15 seasons in Tigertown, also unprecedented at Clemson.

The Alabama native has a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation. In 2006, he was listed as the No. 5 recruiter in the nation by Rivals. He signed 38 players in his five recruiting seasons as an assistant coach and was a major reason Clemson’s 2008 recruiting class was rated No. 2 in the nation by ESPN when he signed 11 players.

When Swinney accepted the interim head coaching position at Clemson on Oct. 13, 2008, he described his feelings as “bittersweet,” because he was taking over for Bowden, who had been his first position coach at Alabama in the 1989 season. He had also brought Swinney back to the coaching profession in 2003 and has had a profound effect on his life. Both had followed similar paths as players, as Bowden was a walk-on at West Virginia and Swinney was a walk-on at Alabama.

Swinney received a commerce & business administration degree from Alabama in 1993 after lettering three times (1990-92). A walk-on who went on to earn a scholarship, Swinney was a wide receiver on Alabama’s 1992 national championship team. He was also named Academic All-SEC along with being an SEC Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll member in 1990 and 1992.

Along with his appearance in the 1993 Sugar Bowl, his Alabama teams played in the 1990 Sugar Bowl, 1991 Fiesta Bowl and 1991 Blockbuster Bowl. Both Sugar Bowl appearances came after winning the SEC title game.

After his playing career, Swinney served as a graduate assistant at Alabama from 1993-95. In December 1995, he received a master’s degree in business administration from Alabama.

He became a full-time assistant coach at Alabama in February 1996 under head coach Gene Stallings and coached a total of five seasons there on a full-time basis. Swinney was assigned to coach the Crimson Tide’s wide receivers and tight ends in 1996, a season that saw Alabama win the SEC West Division title. The following year, he solely coached the tight ends.

In 1998, he coached Alabama’s wide receivers, a position he held for three seasons. At the end of the 1999 campaign, Swinney coached the Crimson Tide in the 2000 Orange Bowl after winning the SEC Championship Game.

During his time at Alabama, Swinney was a part of six teams with double-digit wins, five top-10 finishes, one national title (1992), three SEC championships (1989,92,99) and five SEC West Division titles (1992,93,94,96,99) as a player and coach.

Swinney married the former Kathleen Bassett in 1994. They have three sons, Will (20), Drew (18) and Clay (15). Will is a sophomore and Drew is a freshman on the 2018 Tiger football team.

Total113-30 (.790)4 ACC
1 National
20099-5Music City
20106-7Meineke Car Care
201410-3Russell Athletic
201514-1Orange, CFP NCGACC
201614-1Fiesta, CFB NCGACC, National