Credit: © Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: © Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Fear Not, Clemson. Dabo to ‘Bama? Not Now. Not Ever.

A Blog by Marc Ryan

Offsides with Marc Ryan
July 18, 2019 - 1:05 pm
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A family member known for outspoken takes that have gotten him in a bit of hot water at times did manage to produce one line that’s stayed with me over the years: What you fear is near. His belief is that much like the law of attraction works with our conscience to bring those things we desire into our lives, that it works negatively the same way. Fear something long enough and to such a degree and you’ll be experiencing it.

Talk to ANY Clemson fan, and the top fear is always the same. IS Dabo Swinney going to leave us? WHEN is he going to leave us? How is he going to leave us? To WHOM is he going to leave us?

In a conversation with Dabo on May 22nd, ESPN.com’s David Hale once again broached the subject to Dabo. His answer has been some version of the same take over the years. Here’s this year’s version:

“Who knows? They may do away with college football in three years. There may be no college football. They may want to professionalize college athletics. Well, then, maybe I’ll go to the pros. If I’m going to coach pro football, I might as well do that. I may get a terrible president or a terrible AD one day. I have no idea what’s down the road.”

Well, allow your not so humble host to brighten the day for you, Clemson Nation. Unless you WILL it into existence, Dabo Swinney is not going to the head coach at the University of Alabama. Certainly not now. Definitively not ever.

I had the chance to experience the Clemson vibe for their s[ring game in early April. What a beautiful scene. The rolling hills, the family atmosphere, the championship vibe. It was impossible not to get caught up in it all. Who would ever want to leave that? For any “grass is greener” types, let me stop you. It’s not. The feel of a game day, even a spring football game day, at Clemson, is as special as special gets.

Life is too good for Dabo at “Lil Ole Clemson,” the university serving as chief funder of the most lucrative head coach compensation package in the history of the sport, belying the tongue in cheek nickname. Clemson is his baby, his child, and who wouldn’t want to see that child mature into the adult version of its full potential? You don’t work as hard as Dabo has to build the operation only to jump ship before you’ve had the chance to enjoy sustained excellence and the continued fruits of your labor.

At Clemson, Dabo is the icon. And healthy or not, he is the deity. Wherever he leads, they will follow. Clemson never achieved their current level of success B.D. (before Dabo), and the odds are they won’t come close A.D. (you don’t need my help on this one).

At Alabama, he would simply be maintaining what’s already been done. There’s nothing unprecedented that can be accomplished in Tuscaloosa, whereas he’s rewriting Clemson’s history daily in present day. And despite the fact that he went to school in crimson colors, taking care of someone else’s baby is never as fun and fulfilling as nurturing your own. At Alabama, he’d constantly be compared to Nick Saban. At Clemson, every future coach would and will be compared to him.

No, should Dabo ever leave this special place where he lives a life all of us could only dream of, it will be to the NFL. That’s the only challenge he has yet to undertake. It’s possible one day he may choose to cross that bridge. And it’s possible he may decide that Clemson has become his forever home, and that home is where the heart is.

Judging from previous mediocre and brief ventures of elite college coaches into the professional ranks, Spurrier and Saban coming to mind, Dabo setting his sights on becoming the greatest coach in the history of college football might be more his appetite. He can be one of many in the pros, or chase the title of GOAT status throughout the history of college football. That would intrigue me more, and my guess is when the time comes, Dabo will fell the same. 

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