Clemson Football: Dabo Swinney a Finalist for Coach of the Year


Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has been named a finalist for Coach of the Year but another worthy candidate from the ACC was snubbed.

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Dabo Swinney is one of 12 finalists named by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation for the Coach of the Year Award.

From the release (via TigerNet):

"The Dodd Trophy is the preeminent Coach of the Year award and recognizes the head coach of a team that emphasizes the highest ideals of scholarship, leadership and integrity on and off the field – the three pillars of legendary coach Bobby Dodd’s coaching philosophy. Coach Dodd is one of only three people that have been selected to the National College Football Hall of Fame both as a coach and as a player.Each of the finalists led programs that enjoyed a successful football season while also stressing importance of academic excellence and character. The Dodd Trophy celebrates the total football program which includes winning records, the nation’s top APR scores and graduation rates, and a strong commitment to community service."

Swinney certainly fits the bill although, looking over the other finalists, I’m not sure if everyone else does. It looks like the best way to make the cut is to simply win football games. Perhaps those other ideals–like integrity–can get you into the mix if you lose a few games, like Swinney and Clemson did this year, but just winning most of your games can do the trick as well–if you coach the right team.

Here is the list:

"Art Briles – BaylorJimbo Fisher – Florida StateHugh Freeze – Ole MissBryan Harsin – Boise StateUrban Meyer – Ohio StateJim Mora – UCLADan Mullen – Mississippi StateGary Patterson – TCUGary Pinkel – MissouriMark Richt – GeorgiaNick Saban – AlabamaDabo Swinney – Clemson"

Another thought that immediately comes to mind– where is Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson?

Johnson came into the season on the hot seat and ended up leading Georgia Tech to a 10-3 record, with the last loss coming to Florida State in the ACC Championship. The Yellow Jackets also beat two of the finalists head-to-head and Johnson’s team finished higher in the College Football Playoff rankings than five of the finalists’ teams.

Perhaps Johnson shouldn’t win the award (though I don’t know who actually has a better argument, aside from Gary Patterson) but leaving him off the list of finalists entirely is a major snub.

I would love an explanation for how Mark Richt made the list after Georgia’s disappointing season, while Johnson was left out after guiding the Yellow Jackets to the Orange Bowl.

At least in Swinney’s case, everyone knew this was going to be a bit of a rebuilding year for Clemson, so the Tigers’ 9-3 record was probably better than most expected. Georgia, on the other hand, was supposed to be the odds-on favorite to win the SEC East. And in late August, the Bulldogs were given the seventh-best odds of winning the national championship by Bovada, at 16-1. In the end though, the Bulldogs finished 9-3 with a second-place finish in that terrible division–right behind a Missouri team that lost to Indiana earlier in the year.

Of course, none of this will stop me from cheering for Dabo Swinney to win Coach of the Year. All things considered, this has been one of Swinney’s better years as a coach. Not only did Swinney have a rebuilding project on his hands coming into the season, he also had to contend with an absurd number of injuries.

Everyone knows about Deshaun Watson’s injury problems but the Tigers also played with half an offensive line for much of the year. Zac Brooks was lost before the season began, Adam Choice tore his ACL midway through the year, and Charone Peake missed much of the season after looking like Clemson’s top receiver in the first few games. Cole Stoudt also played hurt for much of the season.

And that is just what Swinney had to deal with on offense. The defense, while mostly immune to the injury bug, did lose Martin Jenkins for much of the year, as well.

So while it’s probably unlikely that Dabo Swinney will actually take home the Coach of the Year award this season, I would say that he absolutely deserves his spot on the list of finalists. It’s just a shame that Johnson was unable to join him.

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