Earlier this summer, Dabo Swinney went to Italy for his summer vacation. It was the first time Clemson’s head coach had ever been to Europe.
At first, like most men, he went reluctantly, but like any good husband he gave in to his wife Kathleen and went on the trip. And, he was glad he did.
Swinney called the trip perhaps the best vacation of his life. A self-proclaimed history nut, Swinney loved seeing and learning about the history of Italy’s great cities, as well as seeing the ancient Colosseum in Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.
Seeing and understanding the history of those great cities gave him an even greater appreciation for what he and his coaching staff have built in the last 10-plus years at Clemson.
“You go into St. Peters and, I don’t know, that thing took like two hundred years to build,” Swinney said. “There were a lot of people that worked on that knew they would never have a chance to see it finished.”
Swinney related that thought to the six weeks he spent as Clemson’s interim head coach in 2008 and how those group of seniors, despite having no championships to play for, went to work and laid down the foundation of a program that is considered one of the best and more respected college football programs in the country.
“I go back to that ’08 group of seniors that had six weeks, they knew they were not going to win a national championship. They knew they were not going to win an ACC Championship,” Swinney said. “They knew they would not see the things we see today. But man, they went to work anyway, and they believed anyway, and they competed anyway.”
That group of seniors finished the 2008 regular season 4-2, which led to Swinney having his interim tag removed from his title. Fast forward to 2019 and Clemson is the King of the Mountain for a second time in three years in college football.
Under Swinney, Clemson has won seven ACC Atlantic Division Championships, 5 ACC Championships, 6 BCS or College Football Appearances, three national championship game appearances and two national championships.
“I love every bit of the journey. I do not take it for granted. I appreciate all of our teams,” Swinney said. “They are all special. Every team has its own story and its own challenges. I’m excited about this new journey in 2019.
“I can’t believe it has gone that fast. I was 38 when I was named interim and 39 when I got the job in December, and I’m going to be 50 this year. I don’t feel 50. I don’t know what you are supposed to feel like. I still feel like I am 25. But it is amazing how fast it has gone, but I am thankful I have a great memory of all that it took to get here.”