Paul Finebaum is as plugged into the SEC as anyone in the country. The noted college football analyst for ESPN knows that Texas A&M needs to act fast to get its right long-term replacement for Jimbo Fisher down in College Station. While high-profile candidates such as Lane Kiffin, Dan Lanning and former Aggies defensive coordinator Mike Elko have been tied to the job, what about Dabo Swinney?
In theory, you would think Swinney would probably retire from the coaching profession on his own accord after having won two national titles at Clemson. The only job anybody thought he would ever leave Clemson for would be his alma mater of Alabama in the wake of Nick Saban retiring. Then again, Swinney may be in need of a reset at Clemson. Texas A&M might be able to offer what he may covet.
Here is what Finebaum had to say about the Swinney to Texas A&M fit on his radio show from Monday.
“Does he fit? Absolutely. Dabo Swinney aligns very well, from a cultural standpoint, with Texas A&M. Would he leave Clemson? I think he would. They’re kind of sick of him, and I think he’s sick of them. And before some ‘Clemsonite’ comes out of his basement and starts telling me how wrong I am, after a while, that happens."
While Swinney would absolutely be "re-energized" at a place like A&M, he also needs to adapt.
"Happens to every coach, usually. And there are few exceptions. Nick Saban, pretty good exception after 17 years. But I think Dabo would be re-energized. I think he would be able to recruit well out there. He’s a good recruiter. His program has slipped at Clemson. It’s not embarrassing, but four losses is not the Clemson standard.”
Let's discuss the pros and cons of Swinney potentially leaving Clemson for Texas A&M, alright.
Paul Finebaum connects Dabo Swinney to the Texas A&M vacancy
From a pure cultural standpoint, Swinney would assimilate almost instantaneously overnight going from Clemson to College Station. Both Power Five programs have rich football traditions, as well as rabid fanbases who sometimes dip their toes into cultish behavior. Swinney is a great recruiter, can assemble a winning staff and would absolutely thrive coming in over from the ACC and into the SEC.
Where I have pushback on the fit is Swinney's absolute abhorrence for the direction college football is going in. He is not a fan of NIL in the slightest and does not believe in the power of the transfer portal. That may have worked out for him for a while at little ole Clemson, but he will be eaten alive in a 16-team SEC. Swinney must change his stance on these sorts of things or he will be fired within years.
Conversely, the biggest reason why I think Swinney could work at Texas A&M is he has already won prolifically at a similar program in the pantheon of college football. Historically, Clemson and Texas A&M are top-25 programs that view themselves as top five. The disconnect is cute, but it can be overcome with a transformative culture builder like Swinney was taking over for Tommy Bowden.
Swinney could be a home-run hire for Texas A&M, but he has to be willing to adapt above all else.