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In the wake of Tommy Bowden's resignation, Clemson announced its interim head coach on October 13, 2008. Soon after, a brown-haired man wearing an orange suit took the podium in front of media members curious to know why a program that'd been ranked in the preseason top-10 just promoted a wide receivers coach with no coordinator or head coaching experience.
A vocal segment of the Tigers' fanbase scratched their heads and collectively asked a similar question, "why did we just hire Dabo Swinney."
Nine years later, that question seems implausible.
Swinney's won 101 games since taking over as Clemson's head coach, including four conference championships and a national title, and has given then-athletic director Terry Don Phillips one of the greatest "I told you so" stories in college football. With the Twitter storm swirling around several programs looking for a head coach, Swinney was asked about the effect a skeptical fan base has on a coach.
Granted, Twitter was nowhere near the lightning rod is it today when Swinney was hired in 2008, but he has a pretty good idea of what it would've been like for him.
"If there had been a cyber jury in '08, I don't get this job," Swinney said at his press conference Friday before the ACC Football Championship Game in Charlotte. "No question about that. If they just did a poll, I would have been the last man on the poll. I'd be somewhere but I wouldn't be here, that's for sure.
"I'm glad Terry Don Phillips didn't pay any attention to a vote. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Terry Don. He was just convicted enough in his belief in me."
There's plenty to keep an eye on in the coming weeks as far as coaching rumors go; Tennessee continues to set the bar lower and lower for itself, Arizona State is interested in former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, and Florida State will likely bring in a big name after losing Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M's record contract offer.
The coaching carousel spins back around every year in college football, but it hasn't seemed to seriously affect Clemson during Swinney's tenure. Former offensive coordinator Chad Morris left to become the head coach at Southern Methodist in 2015, but Brent Venables - who is widely regarded as one of the nation's top defensive coordinators - has spurned interest from multiple FBS programs since arriving in 2012.
Assistant head coach Danny Pearman has been with the program since 2008, and co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott since 2008 and 2011, respectively. That stability helps in recruiting, where Clemson's averaged a top-20 class since Swinney took over.
"It takes time and cycles of recruiting, years of recruiting, to get to where Clemson is right now," said Miami head coach and ACC Coach of the Year, Mark Richt. "For the most part, Dabo has kept his staff together, too. I think that's important."
Beyond the coaches box, Swinney said the support from the top down has made his success at Clemson possible.
"We've been very fortunate. I think that's one of the reasons that our program is where it is," he said. "We've been able to have a lot of continuity, a lot of consistency, just alignment. We have a great chain of command at Clemson. Our Board of Trustees, our president is amazing, our AD, our administration. We just have good chemistry and good alignment.
"We're all on the same page. We all love Clemson. We all want to win, but we want to win the right way. We try to do it by loving our players and graduating our players. It's been a lot of fun."
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