At the 15:02 mark of the video below, Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney expresses how thankful he is that his Clemson players had the opportunity to experience the White House today—the same experience he had as a player on Alabama’s 1992 National Championship team.
As most folks know, Swinney also played under Gene Stallings on that Crimson Tide National Championship team and then coached at Alabama for eight seasons, and the father-like admiration Swinney has for his mentor is well-known.
As Swinney told SEC Country in January, “Coach (Stallings) is like a father, he’s a mentor, been a great role model and leader for me.” Speaking of Alabama’s hallmark win against heavily-favored Miami in that year’s National Championship game, Swinney added, “We all knew that moment right there would be something that would bond us forever…[Coach Stallings] instilled a lot of great qualities and work ethic and toughness, he and Woody McCorvey, two of the most influential men I’ve ever had in my life.”
The mutual respect and friendship between Swinney and Coach Saban is also no secret. While the two often banter back and forth, and their dinner bets on the last two national championship games have garnered much attention, it’s clear in more serious moments that the two men have the deepest admiration for one another. While their personalities differ, Swinney’s respect for Saban is evident on many levels, including the disciplined mastery of the processes for which Coach Saban is so well-known. In fact, Swinney’s White House speech today focuses on that process, as he quotes the famous Tuskegee professor George Washington Carver as saying, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”
Swinney continued to expound on the fact that it’s not the huge moments that define us, but our daily decisions, explaining that “life is not about those (landmark) moments…life is truly about how we live between the moments. That’s really what it comes down to. It’s doing the little things in a great way,” Swinney said.
Later in the day, Yellowhammer founder Cliff Sims ran into Swinney outside the U.S. Capitol and noticed him doing one of those little things—the head coach who makes millions of dollars a year was drenched with sweat standing in the sweltering heat in a suit, but patiently waiting at the back of the line for every player and most every member of the Clemson entourage to go through security before he headed up the rear, smiling and without complaint. As Sims noted on social media “That’s leadership.”
At the Jimmy Rane Foundation dinner last month where Swinney was the keynote speaker, Yellowhammer asked him what he loves most about returning to Alabama and he said, “It reminds me that I’m just a kid from Pelham who didn’t have much of a chance that God gave a chance and I always love coming home because I don’t ever want to forget where I came from.”
Today, Swinney took all of those memories from the University of Alabama to the White House, and while he did so with his team from Clemson, there’s little doubt he will always hold a special place in his heart for the Yellowhammer state and the University that gave him his start in big-time college football, as both a player and coach.