How Dabo Swinneys Culture Took the Tigers to New Heights – A Look at Clemson’s Decade ACC Dominance

The Clemson Tigers were unanimously picked to win the ACC title entering the 2008 season. The team was coached by Tommy Bowden who took over the program in 1999. Bowden coached the team for six games in 2008.

After a disappointing 3-3 start, Bowden was relieved of his head coaching duties and an interim head coach was named. This interim coach was named Dabo Swinney.

In the final seven games of the 2008 season, Swinney went 4-3 and lost to the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Gator Bowl. Little did anyone know that this would be the beginning of one of the greatest coaching reigns in college football history.

Swinney has become one of the best coaches in college football today. Swinney has an excellent football mind. Not one person in the country doubts this fact.

However, Swinney excels in many more areas than just Football IQ. Swinney is a true leader of men and his winning culture is the reason that the Tigers are consistently at the top of the college football world.

Dabo Swinneys Culture – The Early Years

Swinney was given the head coaching position following his interim stint in 2008. It took Swinney two years to fully implement his mindset into the Clemson locker room. The Tigers lost twelve games in his first two seasons as the program leader.

Swinney catapulted Clemson into the college football spotlight in 2011. The team lost in the Orange Bowl, but finished the season as the 22nd ranked team in the country with a record of 10-4.

The first-time head coach had officially arrived in college football.

Dabo Swinneys Culture – Following 2011

Following the 2011 season, the Tigers would go onto win six ACC Championships. From 2011 through the 2020 season, the Tigers haven’t lost more than three games in a season. Swinney has led the program to countless bowl victories.

Swinney has brought two National Championships to Clemson in four total trips to the final. The 51-year-old is 140-32 as the head coach of the Tigers. Results like this don’t occur because of football strategy. Obviously, a team can’t win without football knowledge, but Swinney has found a way to get his kids to buy into his culture since 2008.

Swinney’s winning culture has taken the Tigers to new heights.

Dabo Swinneys Culture – The WINNING Culture

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Dabo Swinney speak once in my life and he delivered one of the best messages I’ve ever heard out of a football coach at any level. Swinney has a few things that he emphasizes to his players inside the Clemson locker room.

The first thing that Swinney did when he took over the Clemson job is to spread a FAMILY culture throughout the Tigers’ program. Players know that they’re cared about, and this is the first step to winning football games.

On the field, Swinney instills a high level of belief and confidence into all of his players when they run out of the tunnel on game day. Every athlete that steps foot on the field at Clemson knows that they have the tools to get the job done. This is done through tremendous preparation and constant positive coaching.

Positive coaching doesn’t mean that the Tigers’ staff doesn’t get after their players. Although, they yell in a way where athletes are never mentally taken down. Constant communication on and off the field is Swinney’s main way to show his players that they’re valued.

When players see that they’re cared about, they work hard to accomplish the program’s goals. This has been evident with Clemson since Swinney officially took over the head coaching position in 2009.

Swinney is as intentional of a coach as you’ll find in college football. He makes his ‘why’ known to the locker room every day. He coaches because he loves his players, and he loves football. When this message is coming from the head coach, players will do whatever it takes for their teammates and coaches.

There are plenty of phenomenal football minds in today’s college game, but great head coaches are few and far between. Swinney’s winning culture has taken the Tigers to new heights. By showing that he values every member of the football program, Clemson has been able to climb to the top of the college football landscape.

If I had to guess, I would say that the Tigers winning ways aren’t disappearing anytime soon with Dabo Swinney at the helm.


Enjoy my look at Dabo Swinneys culture? Follow me on IG @tannerkern and Twitter @tannerkern_ for game previews, betting analysis, and the best stories from the sports world. Be sure and keep up with the Sports 2.0 NetworkSports 2.0 Twitter, and  Knup Sports for all of my latest content and best takes from around the sports and sports betting world as well!!

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Tanner Kern is a former Division I football player at Lafayette College and a graduate of the University of Connecticut. He is currently a writer for Knup Sports and the Sports 2.0 Network. He is the host of Between the Lines, the official show of Baseball Spotlight, and the main contributor for the website.

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