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The litany of accomplishments, records and firsts for Dabo Swinney in his nine seasons as Clemson’s head coach are quite amazing. In terms of success in all areas of a program, Swinney has to be among the best in the nation at the highest level of college football.
Below are a few of the numbers that put in perspective what Swinney has accomplished since he became Clemson’s head coach during the 2008 season.
Clemson has equaled or exceeded its postseason AP and USA Today rankings in comparison to its preseason rankings each of the last six years. That is a significant accomplishment in any year, but it was especially significant in 2016 when Clemson was ranked No. 2 in the nation in the preseason by AP and USA Today and had to finish No. 1 to accomplish the feat again.
The Tigers and Swinney pulled it off, as Clemson won its second national championship in history to once again exceed preseason expectations.
Clemson has exceeded its preseason ranking each of the last six years in the USA Today coaches poll and has exceeded its preseason ranking in the AP poll five of the six seasons. Clemson was picked No. 8 in the AP preseason poll in 2013 and finished No. 8, so the Tigers have at least equaled their preseason ranking in the AP poll six seasons in a row.
Swinney is the first coach in history with a six-year streak in that area. John Cooper (Ohio State) and Bill Snyder (Kansas State) had five-year streaks. Just think of all the coaches in college football history, and Swinney is the only one to do it.
What are the chances he can do it again in 2017? It is going to be a little easier than last year because Clemson was ranked No. 5 in both preseason polls, so a No. 1 through No. 4 finish would keep the streak going. But still, it will be tough to accomplish.
100 WINS IN 10 YEARS IN PLAY
Entering today’s game against Auburn, Swinney has a record of 90-28 for a 76.3 winning percentage. He is sixth among winningest active coaches on a percentage basis, just behind Nick Saban. One of the coaches ahead of Swinney is Jimbo Fisher (Florida State). The two coaches meet at Clemson on November 11 in one of the top games in the nation this season.
Swinney has a chance to reach 100 wins by the end of his 10th year. Only three coaches have won at least 100 games in their first 10 years. Bob Stoops, who recently retired from Oklahoma, has the record with 109 wins (against 24 losses) in his first 10 years. Chris Petersen had a 107-24 record in his first 10 years at Boise State and Washington, and Urban Meyer was 104-23 in his first 10 years as a head coach, stints at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.
While Swinney and the Tigers have played 15 games each of the last two years, he only coached seven games in his first season (2008). Had he coached from the beginning of that year, he might have a few more.
BEATING THE NATION’S BEST
It is one thing to win 90 games in nine years plus one game, but another thing to do it against top competition. Clemson defeated three top-10 teams in 2016 to tie a school record. Swinney and the Tigers have 12 top-10 victories in the last nine years. That includes six top-10 wins since 2011, more than any other head coach in the nation.
The list of coaches Swinney has beaten in the last six years includes two bowl wins over Meyer, the third-winningest FBS coach in history on a percentage basis. Meyer has just six losses at Ohio State, and two are against Swinney as a top-seven ranked team.
Swinney’s top wins include three over Jimbo Fisher (Florida State, 2011, 2015, 2016), the third-winningest active coach on a percentage basis. Saban joined the list last year in the national championship game, while Mark Richt (Miami (Fla.)), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) and Bobby Petrino (Louisville, three times) are also among the top-10 winningest active coaches who have lost to Swinney.
Swinney holds another distinction in that he is the first coach to win a bowl game five years in a row against coaches who have a national championship on their resumés. The streak started with a win over Les Miles (Louisiana State) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the end of the 2012 season. In 2013 and 2016, Swinney defeated Meyer. In 2014 and 2015, Swinney downed Stoops. The win over Saban made it six wins over national championship coaches in bowl games in the last five years.
The SEC has been regarded by many as one of the top conferences since Swinney became head coach. The Tigers have 11 wins over SEC teams since 2008, including victories over Auburn, Alabama and South Carolina in 2016. Swinney’s 11 wins over SEC teams are the most for a non-SEC coach in the last decade. Fisher is second with eight.
JOINING BUD WILKINSON
When Swinney and the Tigers won the 2016 national championship with a victory over his alma mater, Alabama, Swinney joined Bud Wilkinson as the only people to win an AP national title as a player and coach.
Swinney played on Alabama’s 1992 national championship team as a wide receiver. That squad defeated Miami (Fla.) for the title in the 1993 Sugar Bowl.
Wilkinson was a quarterback on Minnesota’s 1936 team that was proclaimed national champion by AP. That was the first year of the AP poll. As head coach at Oklahoma, Wilkinson led the Sooners to AP titles in 1950, 1955 and 1956.
Two other coaches have national titles as a player and coach, but the titles recorded as a player are not recognized by AP. Frank Leahy and Bear Bryant played on national champions declared by other services as players and won multiple AP titles as coaches. Jimmy Johnson played on the 1964 Arkansas team that won the Football Writers national title. He then won an AP title as head coach at Miami (Fla.) in 1987.
ACADEMIC SUCCESS• Thirteen Tiger football players, including five All-Americans, earned their undergraduate degrees during commencement ceremonies in Littlejohn Coliseum in December 2016, just a few days before the Tigers won the national championship. The All-Americans who earned degrees were Ben Boulware, Jordan Leggett, Carlos Watkins, Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams. It marked the first time in school history that five on-the-field All-Americans graduated on the same day.• An additional three players received their undergraduate degrees prior to the 2016 season, so 16 Tigers already had their undergraduate degrees when Clemson won the national championship. Eight members of the 2017 team received their degrees prior to the 2017 season.• In Swinney’s time as head coach, he has had 162 seniors, and 157 of them have earned their college degrees.• Clemson was the only school in the nation in the top 12 of the APR and top 15 of both final polls from 2011-15.• Clemson, Duke and Northwestern were the only schools in the country in the top-10 percent of APR scores every year between 2010-15.• Clemson was second to Stanford nationally in academic success in a ranking of the top-25 teams in 2016. The academic ranking is based on the graduation success rate.• A school-record-tying 48 members of the 2016 team made the academic honor roll during the fall semester when the Tigers made their run to the national championship. In the spring of 2017, a school-record 58 Tigers made the list.• A total of 103 underclassmen filed for the 2017 NFL draft. Eight of the 103 had their college degrees when they filed. Four (Wayne Gallman, Artavis Scott, Watson, Williams) of the eight played for Clemson in 2016.• A total of 29 former Tigers who played their senior year at Clemson were on NFL rosters in 2016, and 25 of them have their degree from Clemson.
SWINNEY TITLES• 2009 ACC Atlantic Division Champions• 2009 Music City Bowl Champions• 2011 ACC Atlantic Division Champions• 2011 ACC Champions• 2012 ACC Atlantic Division Co-Champions• 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl Champions• 2013 Orange Bowl Champions• 2014 Champs Sports Bowl Champions• 2015 ACC Atlantic Division Champions• 2015 ACC Champions• 2015 Orange Bowl Champions• 2016 ACC Atlantic Division Champions• 2016 ACC Champions• 2016 Fiesta Bowl Champions• 2016 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
SWINNEY AWARDS• 2009 Sporting News ACC Coach-of-the-Year• 2011 Bobby Dodd National Coach-of-the-Year• 2014 Grant Teaff FCA National Coach-of-the-Year• 2014 Gene Stallings Humanitarian Award• 2015 AFCA National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 AP National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 Bear Bryant Award National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 CBS Sports National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 George Munger National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 Home Depot National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 Phil Steele National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 Sporting News National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 Sports Illustrated National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 Walter Camp National Coach-of-the-Year• 2015 ACC Coach-of-the-Year (Coaches, Media)• 2016 Bear Bryant Award National Coach-of-the-Year• 2016 Lombardi Award National Coach-of-the-Year• 2016 Phil Steele National Coach-of-the-Year
March 14, 2019