Tommy Bowden recalls why he brought Dabo Swinney back into coaching role
|Friday, July 23, 2021, 11:53 AM- -|
After the 2002 season, the former Clemson head football coach Bowden was in need of a wide receivers coach and he received a resume from a blast from the past in his days as an assistant with Alabama, in the former Crimson Tide receiver Swinney.
The problem was that Swinney had been out of coaching three years while pursuing a real estate career, after being let go by Alabama football.
"When I hired Dabo, I actually got some emails. 'Why'd you go hire a guy who was out of coaching?' I'm here at Clemson and can hire anybody in the country to coach wide receivers," Bowden paraphrased from the email. "Why'd I go after a guy who wasn't even coaching. I can't find that guy now. Whoever wrote that email, he's hidden."
Bowden of course stuck with that hire and Swinney eventually took over as an interim head coach in 2008, with the rest being a trophy-filled history in Clemson.
"I remember after he had won the first national championship game, I called him and said, 'Listen, if I had known you were going to be this good -- I would have let you be the head coach while I was there and I'd still be there,'" Bowden said.
Bowden said Swinney's hire as a receivers coach was a tough call among some good candidates, but it was seeing Swinney at a church event in Alabama years before the hire that pushed him over the top.
"I remember one thing that stood out and it just goes to show you how God works in a guy's life. Dabo is a godly man," Bowden said. "Dabo is a very strong, godly man. It's foundational in his DNA. But when I was at Tulane, I went to First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa (Alabama) and they asked me to speak...After 15-20 minutes after the service, there is a guy standing over with his wife waiting to talk to me. Dabo Swinney and his wife Kathleen had come to hear me talk, and when I got ready to hire somebody, that stood out in the back of my mind.
"Two candidates I interviewed were both highly qualified and really good coaches, and the thing that put him over was the fact -- and I didn't hire all Christians on my staff -- that kind of put him over the hump is he came to hear me speak and that counted for something," Bowden added with a laugh.
Bowden recalled again that he recommended Swinney to move into that interim role when the 2008 season went sideways and he departed midseason.
"He was an excellent coach and an excellent recruiter. When I left, I recommended him -- even though I had some former head coaches on the staff...But I told the AD (Terry Don Phillips) that this young man Dabo, I think he has all the intangibles," Bowden said. "I think Terry Don did not only a great job appointing him...but made the tough decision to make him the full-time coach afterward.
"As faith would go, Dabo has had a tough life with his family structure, but him showing up on that Sunday morning -- him and his wife -- little did he know that I know -- that God would send him there and it would be a difference and he has surely done a great job."