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Let’s forget about Dabo Swinney succeeding Nick Saban at Alabama

About 15 years ago, Clemson decided to unilaterally put an end to the Bowden Bowl and promote Jefferson County native William Swinney to run their football program. Swinney is much better known as “Dabo” because his infant brother adorably could not pronounce “that boy” as a toddler.

Around spring of 2016, after Dabo had won his second conference title and gone toe-to-toe with Alabama in a 45-40 national championship loss, there was growing support among Tide fans for Dabo Swinney to succeed Nick Saban at the helm of the Crimson Tide. This was based on two particularly important qualifications:

  • Dabo was a “Bama Boy,” having played third-string wide receiver and gaining 81 yards on seven receptions in three years.
  • He had won a lot of games at Clemson as coach and was about to win two national championships in the next three years

While the desire among Alabama fans to hire Dabo and the presumption that he would even want to leave Clemson has waned in the past five years, there remains an unspoken hope that when Saint Nick retires, Dabo will continue the tradition of winning in Tuscaloosa.

Please do not let this happen. Dabo Swinney has turned off most of those not wearing purple and orange since he entered the top tier of college coaches. He has become a slightly more likable version of Urban Meyer.

While there are myriad reasons to cross Dabo off the list of potential Saban successors, here are just a few:

  • The Forgotten Roots. Swinney grew up dirt poor and lived for a time in a Pelham hotel while his mom cleaned rooms. He fought and scrapped to play football for the school he loved. To counter my earlier dig on his college stats, he played 12 games for Alabama during its 1992 championship season, and that is something to be proud of. Since then, Dabo has balked at any proposal that would improve the quality of life for the kids whose gameplay directly affects his paycheck and legacy.
  • The Pizza Parties. Clemson has appeared in six out of eight College Football Playoffs, and every time they hold a watch party, the team is treated to all the pizza they can eat. I assume Dabo foots the bill, but I can neither confirm nor deny this theory. I admit this is petty, but it annoys me every time I see it. Also, I bet he tips the driver $5 on a $400 tab.
  • The Speech in Syracuse. In 2017, Syracuse’s historically middling program upset second-ranked Clemson by a field goal. After being favored by 24 points and never being able to stop Syracuse’s offense, Dabo walked to the Orangemen locker room and addressed the team that just beat him. While this might look like a classy move on its face, it exemplifies Swinney’s character. Everything will always be about him.

This is, admittedly, a one-sided column. Swinney has a remarkable record on the field, he has a 10-3 record in the postseason in the last decade, and he has a way about keeping top-flight assistants on his payroll. It took the absolute perfect storm to brew up at Oklahoma for defensive coordinator Brent Venables to finally part ways with Clemson. Dabo Swinney is great for Clemson. Dabo Swinney would not be great for Alabama.

2022 will be a pivotal year for Swinney’s career and where Clemson goes from here. If he wins another national championship or simply returns to the playoffs, 2021 will be forgotten and the Tigers will keep Dabo in the Palmetto State for years to come. Hopefully, even Dabo Swinney will not want Dabo Swinney to coach Alabama after that.

Again, the desire seems to have shrunk among Alabama fans to hire Dabo after Saban retires, and much can happen in the years to come. History however has shown that Alabama fans like nothing more than one of our own leading the program. Even after Saban broke that rule and drop-kicked it across the universe, it’s a fool’s errand to believe that Alabama fans will ever learn a lesson.

Take a listen below for a longer conversation on #NeverDabo, the NFL conference championships, and other items from around the sports world.

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