Clemson University head football coach Dabo Swinney was in a preaching mood following the Tigers’ 44–16 victory against the No. 1-ranked University of Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game Monday night in Santa Clara, California.
Following what was his team’s second national championship victory in three years, the 49-year-old didn’t mince words about who he thought was responsible for the blowout victory against his alma mater.
Although freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence picked apart the Crimson Tide defense on his way to 347 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, Swinney believes God was responsible for orchestrating the Tigers abundant success this season.
“A guy like me, I said this two years ago, you can’t write a Hollywood script, only God can do this. And that’s a fact,” Swinney asserted in a postgame television interview. “People think I'm crazy or quacky or whatever, but only God can orchestrate this.”
Swinney went on to assert that “no Hollywood producer” could write the script that the Tigers faced as they became the first 15-0 team in college football history.
“I am just telling you that if I can do it and these Clemson Tigers can do it, anybody can do it if you have a belief in yourself and what you are doing and you surround yourself with a bunch of great young people that are passionate about winning,” he stressed. “And tonight, we conquered a mountain that ain't never been conquered, with flags on the top. I can’t wait to celebrate.”
Clemson tackled a similar mountain in 2017 when the 14-1 Tigers previously defeated the 14-1 Crimson Tide in that year’s national championship game.
Swinney was also asked in his post-game interview about how he describes the “joy” he felt in the moment.
“That’s been my word [joy] all year and I have tried to be intentional with that,” Swinney said. “For me personally, joy comes from focusing on Jesus, others and yourself. There are so many great coaches that are so deserving of a moment like this that never get the chance to experience it. To get to do it once and now to get to do it again, it's a blessing. It's simply the grace of the good Lord to allow us to experience something like this.”
“We walked off this field tonight as the first 15-0 team in college football history,” he added. “All the credit and all the glory goes to the good Lord, No. 1. And No. 2, to these young [players].”
Swinney is an unashamed Christian. Before of the season last July, he opened up about his Christian faith during a press conference and explained that he was brought up by his parents who taught him about God. But Swinney explained that it wasn’t until he was 16 years old that he came to Christ.
“And that was a game-changer for me,” Swinney said, “That’s really become the foundation of my life.”
He added that it's “hard to survive and thrive in this world if you don’t have a spiritual foundation.”
“And we’re all going to experience death and failure and setbacks and disappointments and cancer and, you know, it’s a really difficult world,” he stressed. “And for me, God has always — in my relationship with Christ — He’s given me hope and peace.”
As the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Decision magazine points out, Swinney was left without a coaching job for nearly two years when he was in his early 30s during the early 2000s after an eight-year stint as an assistant coach at Alabama.
Swinney said he regularly prayed to God about the situation in which he expressed his strong desire to coach again but also kept his mind open for the Lord’s will to be done.
Swinney, for a time, found himself working as a shopping center leasing agent until he was hired by the South Carolina-based Clemson to be the wide receivers coach in 2003.
Six years later, Swinney would become the Tigers head coach. He has transformed the Clemson football team from being a team known for losing winnable games to one that has now won two national championships in three years and is now on the verge of surpassing Alabama as the gold standard in college football.
After the Tigers and Swinney won the national championship in 2017, Swinney also issued the same phrase he uttered Monday night: “Only God can do this.”
“The Bible tells us to run in such a way as to win,” Swinney said after his first national championship win in January 2017, according to Decision magazine. “God creates us to compete. He creates us to win. It matters. But you’ve got no chance if you don’t do your best. That’s what being ‘all-in’ is about for us.”
Swinney is far from being the only strong Christian in the Clemson locker room, as is quarterback standout Trevor Lawrence. Last September, Lawrence explained that his faith is the “biggest thing” in his life.
“Football is important to me, obviously, but it is not my life. It’s not the biggest thing in my life, I always say. My faith is,” Lawrence explained in an interview with the Clemson Insider. “So that just comes from kind of knowing who I am outside of that.”
“I just know that no matter how big the situation is, it's not really going to define me,” he added.
As the 19-year-old Lawrence has had to deal with the high expectations that come with being one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation, he asserted that “it doesn’t really matter” what people think about him or the way he's playing.
Lawrence explained that he puts his “identity in what Christ says” and on who God thinks he is and on what he knows God says he is.
“That has definitely been a big thing for me just in my situation knowing that and having confidence in that,” Lawrence said.