College Football's best coaching rivalry: Dabo vs. Jimbo Part X

College Football's best coaching rivalry: Dabo vs. Jimbo Part X

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College Football's best coaching rivalry: Dabo vs. Jimbo Part X

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Swinney has a 5-4 lead in the head-to-head matchups

The first time Dabo Swinney met Jimbo Fisher he was a young assistant coach at Alabama, 26-years old to be exact. Fisher was not much older, he was 30-years old and was an assistant coach at Auburn.

“We both recruited Birmingham,” Swinney recalled earlier this week. “I used to see him on Friday nights and things like that, running around and recruiting. But I have always got along with Jimbo. I have always got along.”

Though they get along, Swinney and Fisher have always seemed to knock heads on the opposing sidelines. First when they were at Alabama and Auburn and later at Clemson and Florida State. Saturday, they will renew their friendly rivalry one more time when Fisher’s 12th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies visit Swinney’s No. 1 Clemson Tigers.

Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Death Valley will mark the 10th straight meeting for the two as head coaches. Swinney has a slight 5-4 edge in the head-to-head matchups.

“It really was just a working relationship, but then as he became a head coach and I was a head coach, I would say that I got to know him on a whole other level just simply because we spent a whole lot of time in meetings,” Swinney said. “We used to spend three days a year in meetings together and the other coaches, so you just get to know guys a little bit differently.”

Swinney and Fisher were 4-4 against each other when Fisher was at Florida State from 2010-’17, and last year Swinney won his fourth straight against his coaching rival when the Tigers toppled the Aggies in College Station, Texas.

“He is a really good football coach. We have had a lot of battles against him for sure,” Swinney said. “He has done a great job already, and he will do a great job there at A&M.”

Dabo vs. Jimbo (courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications)

  • Saturday’s contest will be the 10th all-time meeting between teams led by Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher in head coaching capacities. Swinney presently holds a 5-4 lead in the all-time series between the two coaches, including a 4-4 record against Fisher with Florida State and a 1-0 record against Fisher with Texas A&M. Saturday marks the ninth consecutive time Swinney enters a game against Fisher with a Top-25 squad.
  • During Fisher’s head coaching tenure at Florida State from 2010-17, the winner of the Clemson vs. Florida State game won the ACC Atlantic Division title every year. The same can be said for the ACC Championship from 2011-17.
  • Swinney (.796) ranks second in career winning percentage in the nation among active coaches with at least 10 years of experience. Fisher is fourth (.775).
  • Swinney and Fisher represent two of only five active head coaches to guide a team to an FBS national championship.
  • The coaches presided over the two most-dominant national title teams by scoring margin since 2000. When Fisher’s Florida State team posted a 14-0 record in 2013, it outscored opposing teams by 553 points, the highest single-season scoring margin in the nation since 2000. Last year, the Tigers outscored the opposition by 467 points, the second-largest scoring margin during that period, on the way to the first 15-0 season since 1897.
  • The commonalties don’t end with scoring margins. Both Swinney and Fisher are from the state of Alabama and played college football in that state. Fisher played for Terry Bowden at Samford in Homewood, Alabama where he was the Division III National Player of the Year. Swinney walked on at Alabama, where he was a member of the Crimson Tide’s 1992 national championship team.
  • Swinney’s first position coach in college was Tommy Bowden, Terry’s brother and Swinney’s predecessor as head coach at Clemson. Swinney also coached under Tommy Bowden for six seasons at Clemson. Bringing the relationship full circle, Terry Bowden is on Swinney’s staff at Clemson this year as an unpaid graduate intern.

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