One-on-One with Dabo Swinney
OK, Dabo, for those who haven't heard it: The story behind the name Dabo.
"I'm from Alabama and I like to tell people that when you're from Alabama you get names like Dabo. But my brother is 17 months older than me - his name's Tripp, by the way, and he is a trip - and when I was a baby he always called me 'That boy.' For him, it sounded like 'Dat Bo' and that became Dabo and I guess my parents kind of liked it. I've been called Dabo from birth. It's been a lot of fun and it's been a way for people to remember me if nothing else."
You have been rated among the top recruiters in college football. What goes into that?
"I think it means people recognize you've done a good job but to me it means I've had good people around me. And I've worked at good places. You work at Alabama and you work at Clemson and, dang, those are two great institutions. There are probably a lot of recruiters out there who could do as well as I have working here. This is a place in my eyes that's easy to sell."
What is the last good book you read?
"I'm reading one right now called 'Lessons From the Top' by pastor Ken Smith. I'm really enjoying that. I have another one on my desk, 'One Month to Live' (by Kerry and Chris Shook). A lady sent it to me and it hit me between the eyes. When it came, I had one month to be the head coach here and I got that book and said, 'OK, I have one month to live.' "
All-time favorite book?
"It would have to be the Bible. No doubt about it."
Favorite sports movie?
"Oh, man. Lots of 'em. But I have a soft heart for 'Brian's Song,' one of the greatest movies ever. I mean the original 'Brian's Song.' I can remember being in seventh grade English class watching that and crying like a baby and trying not to let anybody see me."
Have you really known your wife Kathy since the first grade?
"Oh, yeah. My oldest brother dated her oldest sister for a couple of years when we were in grade school so we became friends and played with each other for years. Then when we were in middle school, I asked her to go with me. You know — 'Check the box if you want to go with me'— that kind of thing. I like to tell everybody I broke up with her in seventh grade. But we were always such good friends and then when we got into high school we really started dating and did so all through high school and college."
What was your first real date?
'Real date? The summer going into my senior year in high school and her junior year. I had stayed after her and finally she said, 'OK.' We went to see the movie 'Summer School' with Mark Harmon. I'll never forget, first we went to eat at a little restaurant and all she ordered was fried cheese. That was great for me because I probably only had about $15 total in my pocket. Then the movie started at about 9:45. And we're sitting there in the theater and about 10:40 she leans over to me real politely and whispers, 'I have to be home at 11.' I'm like, 'What?' So we go scrambling out of there and I drove way too fast to get her home by 11."
Dabo, do you have an iPod?
What's in it?
"Everything from Elvis — I love Elvis — to Ray Charles, to Shania Twain to all my spiritual songs, to Jimmy Buffett ... I have a wide variety of musical interests. All kinds of stuff."
Where is your '92 national championship ring?
"In my house in a little case. I also have a national championship ball. We all exchanged signed balls when we flew up to the White House to meet President Clinton. And I also have a game ball from that game that I confiscated from one of the refs at the end of that game. I had a chance to seize the moment and I did."
How about a little word association with college coaches, or former coaches.
"Friend. Family man."