Take five minutes and listen to Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney talk. After about two of those minutes, you’ll fall in love with the guy. He’s a smart, articulate, hard-to-hate family man who places his faith in God before any College Football Playoff National Championship Game he’ll ever win. He’s built a dynasty in Clemson, South Carolina over the last decade, and the university rewarded him with a record-breaking contract during this offseason.
But while what Swinney said during a recent SiriusXM radio interview wasn’t meant to insult anyone, a few simple words, meant as a joke, are turning his reputation in the college football world upside down.
According to David Hood of TigerNet.com, Swinney was recently asked about how he successfully recruits players in his home state of Alabama. Keep in mind that Clemson University smoked Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, 44-16, in the 2019 national title game, as well as beating them back in 2017 with Deshaun Watson at quarterback.
For obvious reasons, Swinney joked that Alabamians have “made me a stepbrother now, but I am still in the family.”
Successfully navigating in Crimson Tide and SEC country for elite high school football recruits isn’t easy for Dabo these days, but he’s still damn good at it. The Clemson coach signed Alabama’s No. 1 recruit last year, wide receiver Justyn Ross, who torched the Crimson Tide for 153 receiving yards in the 2019 title game as a true freshman.
During that SiriusXM interview, Clemson’s leader jokingly said how he feels like “Osama bin Dabo” when he enters Alabama, a reference to al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, whose organization was responsible for murdering almost 3,000 people during the attacks on September 11.
“I think it was all fun and games early on. It was ‘Aww, isn’t that sweet?’ and all that stuff. I don’t know about walls, but I am kinda like Osama Bin Dabo. I have to navigate my way through the caves and back channels to make my way through Alabama these days. They aren’t as happy to see me. But it’s all good. It’s a good problem.”
— Dabo Swinney, h/t TigerNet.com
Needless to say, not everyone in college football country, and in particular in the ACC, thought the reference was funny at all. A storm of negativity descended across social media with Americans across the country condemning Swinney’s joke.
I’m positive every single Clemson fan is defending Dabo Swinney today because that’s what college football fans do, but looking at this through an objective lens, it shouldn’t have been said.
Was Swinney joking? Of course he was. But was this a joke he should’ve left at home? Yeah.