Would Dabo leave Clemson for the NFL?
Florida State legendary head coach Bobby Bowden famously told a story about his dream to coach the University of Alabama, the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in Alabama. By the time the Tide came calling, he’d built the Seminoles into a national powerhouse.
On not taking the job in 1990, Bowden said, “I thought about it for about an hour,” Bowden said. “It was too late. I was (61). Florida State was home. It had become home. And we had things rolling pretty good.” Bowden had made Florida State his Alabama.
Of course, Alabama –no matter what anyone says or thinks– is not the pros, and William “Dabo” Swinney is not 61 years old. However, the Alabama native has built Clemson into a national power, and he and his family are financially set for life.
Dabo Swinney has everything he needs at Clemson
There are several reasons this is likely not to happen. First is security. Financially, Swinney is set for life. Barring scandal or a severe losing streak, Swinney has the Clemson job for as long as he wants the position. The 10-year, $92 million contract he signed was intended to keep him on campus for his entire career.
Though his primary concern would only be football in the NFL, Dabo has not indicated that he does not enjoy the extra responsibility of being a college football coach. Dabo’s ability to fundraise is one of the reasons Clemson’s coffers are full. He’s a great recruiter and speaks at multiple alumni functions.
Except for a few cynical comments aimed at paying players, Swinney has not indicated that he has any desire to coach in the NFL. Swinney seems like a college football lifer. He’s never coached in the pros, not even as an assistant.
Former NFL general manager Mike Tannenbaum inaccurately compared Swinney with former USC and current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. Unlike Swinney, Carroll spent most of his coaching career in the pros despite starting his coaching career at the college level. Swinney’s lack of NFL coaching experience is not an absolute indicator of success or failure. However, does Swinney want to leave college for the pros? He has $92 million reasons not to go.
The release of running back Leonard Fournette gives the appearance of tanking by Jacksonville. That does not guarantee the No. 1 draft pick. The question here is, “Will Swinney only go to Jacksonville if Trevor Lawrence goes to Jacksonville?”
Many coaches see the NFL as the pinnacle of coaching, and have had success at both the collegiate and professional levels. John Robinson left USC and had great success with the Rams, leading them to the NFC championship game. As mentioned above, Pete Carroll won two National Titles with USC and a Super Bowl with Seattle.
Paul Brown founded the Browns and Bengals after coaching Ohio State. Like Carroll, Barry Switzer won both a Super Bowl with the Cowboys and a National title with Oklahoma. Before Caroll and Switzer, Jimmy Johnson accomplished the feat with the Miami Hurricanes and Dallas Cowboys.
However, professional coaches do not have the staying power that college coaches have. If Dabo wants to “stick” in one place, there is no reason to leave Clemson. Swinney has been on the shortlist of many GMs for quite a while, but there is no evidence that he’s even flirted with the NFL.
Swinney is not a pro coach in a college coach’s body. Everything about Swinney’s style screams college. He will not leave Clemson anytime soon.