When Terrell Owens walked into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, Ala., Friday afternoon, he made a beeline for Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
Owens later admitted, during a breakout session with the media on Friday, he was anxious to meet the Tigers’ coach.
From his home in Los Angeles, Owens loves to watch college football. Born and raised in Alabama, he grew up on the sport and became an Alabama football fan at a young age. He knew Swinney played for the Crimson Tide’s 1992 National Championship team and was an Alabama graduate, so has followed Swinney’s career as a head coach at Clemson.
“I was equally excited just to meet him,” Owens said to The Clemson Insider. “I did not know he was from Alabama. So when I got a call I was inducted and I got the list of all the people that were going in with me, I was like, ‘Man, this is crazy!’”
Swinney will be enshrined tonight as a part of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 at the Sheraton Birmingham, along with Owens, a five-time All-Pro in his 16 NFL seasons, golf’s Stewart Sink, Alabama football player Johnny Davis, NFL and college coach Chan Gailey, baseball player Tim Hudson, basketball star Bill Jones, gymnast Kathryn McMinn and American Sportsman Jimmy Rane.
Owens wanted to meet Swinney for a couple of different reasons, first to give him a hard time for beating his Crimson Tide in the 2017 National Championship Game and to tell him how much he respects the job he has done in Clemson the last 10 years.
“When you think about the good programs, and you obviously see what he has done with that program and how he turned it around, there is no secret,” Owens said. “When you talk about the success and the success he is having, he is a part of that Alabama tree.
“He has taken that cultural and he has taken it up to South Carolina and is doing some great things up there at Clemson.”
In his 10 years at Clemson, Swinney has already compiled a 101-30 overall record. The Tigers have played for the national championship in two of the last three seasons and won it with its dramatic victory over Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Swinney’s teams have participated in three straight College Football Playoff, won four ACC Championships (each of the last three) and have seven straight 10-win seasons.
But the Clemson program’s success just isn’t on the football field. Under Swinney, Clemson has consistently been among the best in terms of the graduation rate as 91 percent of his seniors have earned their college degrees.
The program’s success off the field, paired up with its success on the field has caught the attention of others in the coaching profession, including Gailey.
“I’m so happy for him and for Clemson, mainly for the type of person he is,” said Gailey, who coached against Swinney when he was the head coach at Georgia Tech and Swinney was an assistant under Tommy Bowden. “You don’t know how someone is as a coach until you coach with them. You don’t know how good they are or what they are like. You get to know how good a person is by the way they handle themselves on good days, bad days, good times and bad times. I’m really happy because of the type of person he is and the type of program they are building and what they are building it for and what they are trying to do with it.”