SI: Reborn in Death Valley
Dabo Swinney, the young Clemson coach, was talking to a group of old players last Friday night at a reunion of the 1981 Tigers, the only Clemson team to win a national title. The players, most of them, had seen 50 come and go, and a few were wearing pleated Dockers with cellphones on their belts and championship rings on their thick fingers. Full onset middle age. Danny Ford, an even younger coach himself 30 years ago, sat on a sofa and listened as Swinney suddenly found himself talking about ... Steve Jobs.
"Steve Jobs?" Swinney asked the room. You could hear his mossy boyhood near Birmingham in the way he said the name. Dabo got his own moniker from an older brother who called the new kid in the house, christened Christopher, a variant of dat boy. "The Apple guy?" Yes, of course: Steve Jobs, the Apple guy. The whole room knew, but Swinney understands the wisdom in taking nothing for granted. "I heard a quote about him from President Obama. President Obama says, 'This was a man who was brave enough to think differently.'"
Ford, now 63, and his Clemson team were brave enough to think differently, Coach Dabo said, and they won the national title. The 41-year-old Swinney (pronounced SWEE-nee) was challenging himself and his team to do the same—and make the Tigers, who have not won even an ACC championship in 20 years, special again.
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