That moment every Clemson fan has worried about is here. If you missed it, Nick Saban announced his retirement last night. The job that Saban made the biggest in college football is now open, and it is at Dabo Swinney’s alma mater no less.
Immediate short lists had Oregon HC Dan Lanning at the top, followed by a few other names like Steve Sarkisian, Kirby Smart (ha), Lane Kiffin, and our own Dabo Swinney. Depending on your favorite site, you could also add in Mike Norvell and even some fun candidates like Ryan Day.
Until today the consensus seemed to be Lanning was Alabama’s top choice. But an announcement by Lanning indicates he’s either passing on Alabama, or the Crimson Tide have moved on. It is anyone’s guess who is up next.
There are a lot of reasons this would be a bad move on both ends. The old axiom of “You don’t want to be the guy that follows The Guy, be the guy who follows the guy who followed The Guy”. Replacing Saban won’t be an easy task, but coaches do tend to have infinite belief in themselves. Even if Dabo has the perfect spot here at Clemson, one that he’s created over time.
For Alabama there would be such a culture shock that the boosters and fans are already protesting. Chants of “Not Dabo” apparently broke out at some point last night. And Dabo’s personality compared to Saban could cause a lot of discontent. The Bama boosters would be on him in a heartbeat.
The truth is until this search is done, or Dabo announces publicly he is staying, Clemson fans shouldn’t rest easy. Bama is home for Dabo, it is where he began is journey. If they come calling he’s likely to at least listen. Put it this way, imagine for yourself that Clemson came calling to offer you the exact same job you have right now, but at Clemson. Oh and by that way the role at Clemson is considered the best in the country. You’re going to take that phone call, maybe even seriously consider it. Even if there are one thousand reasons to say no, returning home is always a reason to say yes.