Now that Dabo Swinney has beaten Urban Meyer (twice) and Nick Saban and won a national championship, it’s time for the college football world to view the Clemson head coach in a different light, in a more respectful light.
Where is Swinney’s place in the college football hierarchy?
“I take Dabo and I put him up there and put him in that pile of coaches that has to be respected and (you) have to say that this guy knows what the heck he’s doing,” FOX Sports NFL and college football analyst Charles Davis said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Look, when you see Dabo, you hear the name, working in a Southern school – I know. I go around the country. ‘Dabo? Who has a coach named Dabo? Oh okay, Southern school.’ You got to understand I was born in the South, my parents were Southerners, I went to school in the South – I know this pretty darn well. There’s no mocking. This is the view from everywhere else.”
And then there’s Swinney’s sideline demeanor.
“He’s not alone, but he’s pretty expressive,” Davis said. “He looks like one of those run-around, jump-around guys (asking), ‘What’s going on? What’s happening?’ But you don’t have the success he’s had over the last five, six years without having some substance – and there’s plenty of substance there. He’s not just a catch-phrase guy. Those kids don’t follow you and play for you unless they believe in you, and he’s getting that done. He’s done a nice job with his staff, and I thought they did a great job of game-planning (against Alabama). When they needed plays on the perimeter, they found the one guy they wanted to identify – and that was unfortunately No. 28 in the corner for Alabama – and they had a size and seed mismatch with (Mike) Williams when he came back into the game. When they needed big plays, they went there and they got them. I thought they did an excellent job of identifying what they needed to do in that ball game.”
Of course, it helps that Swinney had Deshaun Watson distributing the ball. In fact, Watson was lights out for the second straight year against Alabama. In two games against the Tide, he accounted for 941 yards (825 passing, 116 rushing) and eight touchdowns (seven pass, one rush).
He may be a first-round draft pick based on those two games alone.
“If people were sitting on the fence as an organization or whoever is the person that gets to make the call on drafting him, it might have nudged them favorably because once again – against the best team in the country – he showed out,” Davis said. “And if you really look at is as a two-year run, I’m just going to take two years and a six-game sample: ACC Championship game, semifinal, final. Two years in a row, he went through those three. Two years in a row, he was probably the best player on the field against that type of competition. He beat North Carolina last year, Virginia Tech this year. Then you go to the semifinals: Oklahoma last year, Ohio State this year. Finals: Alabama last year, Alabama this year. There’s some pretty good brand names in there. We’re talking about names that everybody in the country (knows). So everything else we’re going to pick apart on this kid – and you know we are – between now and draft day. It’s going to come back to this: big games, big stage, best performances, Deshaun Watson. That definitely puts him in first-round category. How high? That’s yet to be determined, and it might be a tiebreaker between him and other players if it comes down to it.”