CLEMSON -- Twenty-two months ago, Dabo Swinney was an amiable wide receivers coach, earning a relatively modest paycheck.

As Clemson begins practice Tuesday, the former Alabama walk-on and commercial real estate agent is a now a $1.75 million head coach of a BCS program.

So what's changed about Swinney since he led Clemson to its first Atlantic Division title?

Not much, Swinney says.

Swinney entertained reporters at the Grandover Resort last week for 45 minutes, just as outgoing and talkative as last year. Swinney was still offering Daboisms, still energetic and optimistic.

"I've tried to not let it change me," Swinney said of his early success. "I hope that I'm the same person I was as an assistant coach. I hope I've kept my feet on the ground, it's something I'm conscious of.

"I don't ever want to create a feeling or perception that it's about me. I try to stay involved in the community and do things the way I always have," he said.

Sure, Swinney has a few more luxuries now -- there is a swimming pool and trampoline at Swinney Manor -- but if Swinney has changed at all, he says it's for the better as a football coach.

Swinney has 21 games of head coaching experience -- 21 trial and error sessions -- 13 wins, eight losses,

"I've learned to not get ahead of myself, and it's hard to do that in this job," Swinney said. "To compartmentalize, to focus on what I'm doing at this time. … Keep it all in perspective. If you don't, all the sudden you start thinking you are smarter and better than you are.

"I don't have all the answers. I just work hard and try to make good decisions."

Swinney is backed by a staff which returns intact from last season, when the program was one defensive stop away from its first ACC title in nearly 20 years.

"Now we have real data to learn from, our successes, our failures," Swinney said. "It's a great situation to have everyone back. We are all on the same page and we can continue to learn … developing our brand."

The second full year of the Swinney Era also figures to be about what hasn't changed related to the Swinney brand of football.

Swinney, as he did last summer, is preaching balance. Clemson's adherence to balance was especially prevalent in the second half of last season with more two tight end sets and power packages.

"We try to have nice balance in all aspects," Swinney said. "That's a big part of our game in being able to create explosive plays from our running game. … we had some of our best plays last year (off of) play- action."

In his second full year, Dabo promises balance and to still be Dabo.

At the Grandover, Swinney recalled a meeting with his first coach at Alabama, Bill Curry, at a banquet after Swinney had been named head coach.

"(Curry said) 'Dabo you don't have to be anything other than what you are. That's what's gotten you where you are, just be who you are. If people have a problem with that, that's their problem. Don't change.'"

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