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Dabo Swinney's Real Name Was a Mystery Until 3rd Grade

The Clemson Tigers' football season has ended with national championship game appearances in four of the last seven years, which ultimately led to their coach getting the most lucrative contract for a head coach in college sports at the time. (Yes, even more than Nick Saban.) But what name was actually printed on that contract? It definitely wasn't "Dabo Swinney."

Since growing up an infant in Alabama — the state he's beaten twice in the national championship — he's been called Dabo, but most people don't realize that's not actually his real name.

What is Dabo Swinney's Real Name?

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That's right. Dabo isn't actually the real name of Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, William Christopher Swinney grew up in Pelham and dreamt of playing football for the University of Alabama.

As an infant, the future NCAA national title-winning football coach was called Chris by his father, short for his middle name Christopher. But his older brother, Tripp, just 15 months old, would call him "that boy." Since his brother was so young, it came out sounding more like "Dabo."

The name stuck so well, it wasn't until the third grade when Dabo actually found out his first name was William, and that was only because of those scantron tests in school.

William Christopher came a long way since those days, starring on the American football field and in the classroom in high school, being a walk-on with the Alabama football team and eventually starting at wide receiver for Alabama's 1992 national championship team. His coaching career began as a graduate assistant for the Tide, where he eventually coached receivers and tight ends from 1996 to 2000 while earning his master's degree in business administration.

Once again though, his ties to Alabama led to his current position as one of the highest-paid coach in college athletics.

In 2002, his former position coach and then Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden offered him a job as assistant coach, working with the receivers at Clemson, and he took on the title of recruiting coordinator for the Tigers. When Bowden was fired in 2008, Swinney took over as the interim head coach and was given the full-time job at the end of the regular season.

Head Coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers yells instructions to his team on the field during a football game between the Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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At Clemson University, head coach Dabo Swinney has won over 140 games, captured seven ACC Championships, reached multiple bowl games (including the Orange Bowl in 2022) and has beaten the Alabama Crimson Tide twice to win the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on ESPN. If there's real estate in Nick Saban's head, the Clemson coach owns it. When it comes to ranking coaches Alabama hates, Dabo's top of the list.

Since the NCAA began the CFP, Clemson has played in the tournament six of its first seven years, beating the Oklahoma Sooners, Ohio State Buckeyes, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and of course, Alabama.

Another impressive record is the one the college football coach has accumulated against ACC conference opponents. Since taking over, the Clemson football team wins over 80 percent of their games in ACC play against the likes of Miami and Georgia Tech and is 7-1 in ACC title games. Plus, almost a fifth of those losses were to the Florida State Seminoles.

Clemson churns out NFL talent, including quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence, but the 2015 AP Coach of the Year prides himself on growing young high school kids into men before they leave South Carolina.

It's safe to say Clemson's head football coach has completely changed his football program for the better in every way, yet somehow, most people don't even know his real name.

This article was originally published May 6, 2019.

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