Dabo is pretty pumped about his new contract. PHOTO: USA Today Sports'
The average length of a first marriage in the United States is about eight years. Dabo Swinney has been at Clemson for six years and the school has just locked him up for another eight with a contract extension. Despite not having hired Dabo, the marriage between Dabo and Clemson AD Dan Radakovich is a strong one.
Swinney started out his career at Clemson as interim coach in 2008 and had an up and down first two and a half years. During that stretch, the Tigers went 19-15 overall and 13-8 in the ACC. In his last three years, Dabo has hit his stride with his Tigers going 32-8 and 19-4 in the ACC.
With consecutive bowl wins in the Chick-fil-A and Orange Bowl, the Tigers look like they are pointed in the right direction as Dabo has consistent leadership on both sides of the football with Chad Morris on offense and Brent Venables on defense.
Dabo now has the fourth longest tenure (way behind Frank Beamer and half a year behind David Cutcliffe and Paul Johnson) in the ACC and this contract that will pay him $3.15 million next season and if I'm reading the USA Today database correctly that would make him the highest paid coach in the ACC (he will be second behind Bobby Petrino once Louisville enters the conference).
The biggest question for me is if Dabo really deserves a pay increase of around 33% and that long of an extension with a substantial buyout (100% if terminated by Clemson in first three years and 75% in fourth and fifth years). Clemson had a really nice season this year and capped off their season with a big win in a BCS bowl game, but was it that good?
Dabo does hold one ACC Championship to his record as his Tigers beat up on Virginia Tech in the 2011 ACC Championship Game before being historically destroyed by West Virginia. Since that loss, Clemson has only lost four games in two seasons, which is fantastic, but it's hard to ignore that they are 0-4 against the combination of FSU (the top team in the ACC the last two years) and South Carolina (Clemson's in-state rival). The biggest blemish on Dabo's coaching record has been his lack of success against the Gamecocks. In Dabo's "interim" year, Clemson got their only victory of his tenure over Steve Spurrier and his squad. Since then, the Tigers have gone 0-5. 0-5 against in-state rivals will get you fired in a lot of other rivalries around the South.
I'm not saying that Dabo doesn't deserve an extension and even a little raise after two really good seasons, but eight years seems like a bit of a stretch. This is the type of raise/extension that you give a coach after they win a National Title, or even consecutive Conference Titles, not after you won a BCS game against a team with zero victories over Top 15 foes.
It is refreshing that in this era of "win now" and "what have you done for me lately" college football that Clemson is willing to make such an investment in Dabo, but I also feel that they went just a bit overboard. It should also be noted that Radakovich is the same AD that handicapped Georgia Tech with Paul Johnson's exorbitant buyout.