Dabo Swinney was hired by Clemson back in 2008 after Tommy Bowden was booted midseason. He finished the season 4-2 as interim head coach and beat hated rival South Carolina that year as well. He was then named the permanent head coach at the end of the season and Yahoo’s Pat Forde (who was with ESPN at the time) was not impressed by the hiring and in fact gave it a pretty terrible grade.
Forde was only impressed with one coaching hire that year when Mississippi State got Dan Mullen, but was pretty harsh on everyone else. That was the same year Lane Kiffin was hired at Tennessee, Gene Chizik was hired at Auburn and Kansas State re-hired Bill Snyder. Here’s what he said about Clemson hiring Swinney:
Clemson.The hire: Swinney, who was recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach until Tommy Bowden was whacked in midseason. The grade: D-plus.
Swinney was part and parcel of a failed season, but somehow got a promotion out of the deal. Who knew that beating Duke and Virginia could lead to such ample rewards? Clemson fans loved the fact that the Tigers closed the regular season by beating rival South Carolina. But hey, Bowden beat the Gamecocks seven times in nine tries and look where that got him. Swinney has the same thing going for him that Sarkisian has at Washington: the in-conference competition in the ACC isn’t that stiff.
Swinney only went on to have six consecutive seasons with ten wins or more and just won the National Championship by beating the vaunted Alabama defense. He’s proven he can recruit with the best of them and can coach those guys to boot. Of those guys hired in 2008, only Mullen and Snyder are still at their respective schools and you can find that entire hire grading article here.
[h/t The Spun]