ARLINGTON, TEXAS – DECEMBER 29: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers reacts during the fourth quarter in the College Football Playoff Semifinal Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)Dabo Swinney has become one of college football’s greatest head coaches, leading the Clemson Tigers to multiple national championships, including a blowout win over Alabama in last season’s College Football Playoff title game.The 49-year-old head coach still hasn’t completely gotten over an old critical comment from ESPN, though.Swinney, 49, admitted on a recent ACC Network roundtable that he’s still using an old comment from ESPN as motivation.“Probably the biggest thing (I remember) is I was a D-plus hire,” Swinney said. “You know, ESPN in 2009 all the new coaches, I don’t know it was 15 new coaches; it’s about 15 a year or so. And my name, and I was a D-plus. And I was so happy to get that plus. You know, and you’ve heard me say this this past week, I come to work every day with that mindset. I’m a D-plus hire. And that’s one thing that I’ve probably hung on to. The rest of it I flush it on right out the door.” “I was a D+ hire.”Look at Dabo now 🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/2l288tC3lB— ACC Network (@accnetwork) September 4, 2019Swinney, who became Clemson’s head coach in 2009, was given a D+ hire grade by then-ESPN college football writer Pat Forde.From that column:Swinney was part and parcel of a failed season, but somehow got a promotion out of the deal. Who knew that beating Duke and Virginia could lead to such ample rewards? Clemson fans loved the fact that the Tigers closed the regular season by beating rival South Carolina. But hey, Bowden beat the Gamecocks seven times in nine tries and look where that got him. Swinney has the same thing going for him that Sarkisian has at Washington: the in-conference competition in the ACC isn’t that stiff.Swinney has since gone on to win two national championships and five ACC championships. He has an overall record of 117-30.That’s pretty good for a “D+” hire.
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