Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Taking Dabo Swinney's Temperature as We Enter this Fine Bye Week

Let me preface this by saying I'm not advocating for Dabo Swinney's removal. Its too early to start that kind of talk. Why? For starters, the offense still has time to get better, and even make substantial improvements in-season. DrB and Ryan Bartow's revelations about the Swinney overriding Napier 1-2 times a series suggests there's room for improvement by simply avoiding unnecessary confusion. (By the way, I think I speak for ClemBen when I say that if this pans out, we'll be more than happy to shift the majority of the blame to whoever is most responsible for the baffling playcalling.) A lot of the other issues with this offense are also fixable, but will likely require the offseason and at least some personnel changes.

Moreover, it's too early because in the name of program stability most coaches gets a decent amount of time to turn things around as long as they aren't finishing 2-10 or 3-9. This is probably particularly true with an inexperienced guy like Dabo Swinney, after all, we knew there would be growing pains when he was hired. I generally think stability is overrated--as soon as you realize your coach is an anchor, its best to cut ties as soon as possible and get the rebuilding process started. The real problem comes when trying to ascertain when the coach has officially become the proverbial "anchor" on the program. That's something I'll try and look into over the bye weekend, but for now I think that while he weirdly has the "inexperienced" label actually working in his favor at this point, there are two points that work against Swinney in determining how long he will last at Clemson.

First, contract. While the man's not being paid peanuts (~$800,000 in guaranteed money), he's not as expensive to cut ties with as other coaches would be around the country. I'm sure this was part of Phillips' plan from the outset--if things blow up in the program's face we can just cut ties without breaking the bank.

Second, and probably more importantly, one of the most widely-cited reasons for retaining Swinney as head coach was his ability to keep the recruiting pipeline going, arguably the brightest spot of the Bowden years. But as the program continues to struggle, the strength of recruiting classes will inevitably dive and Swinney will end up losing possibly his best selling point.

There are still quite a few things in Swinney's favor at this point. And ultimately what will play the biggest role in deciding the length of his tenure is the number of wins versus the number of losses. But the two reasons I mentioned can only make it easier for Phillips (or whoever) to pull the trigger when the time comes.


  1. I'm reminded of something I saw on Tnet...."TDP wants the AD to run like a Lexus for the price of a Kia."

    If you went out and paid for an all-star Def Staff with tons of experience, and didnt do the same for offense when they were the problem the last 2 years, then what do you expect to happen.

  2. This is a really good point. I don't think we know the cap Swinney was given to hire his staff.

    On the other hand, Swinney seemed to make it pretty clear he wanted a strong hand in developing the offense. If that's the case, I'm not sure how many high-quality OCs would have been interested in the job anyways...


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