The Woman Behind the Man

CLEMSON - At the start of Monday's press conference announcing Dabo Swinney as Clemson's permanent head coach, it was clear the Tigers' 25th head man had a lot on his mind.

Among the many friends, family and coaches he thanked in his opening statement included his his step father, his high school coach, his former teammates at Alabama, former Alabama head coach Gene Stallings, Tommy Bowden, Rob Spence and Brad Scott.

But perhaps no one meant as much on a day like Monday as his wife Kathleen, and his three sons Will, Drew and Clay.

After all, there's something to be said for being able to deal with the crazy work schedule of a football coach - especially a head coach at a school like Clemson.

"Nobody can ask for anything better than what I have with my precious family," Swinney said tearing up. "Kath and I have been together for a long time. She had no idea what she was getting herself into in the sixth grade when I sent her a note saying will you go with me? Check yes or no.

"She checked yes and she had no idea what kind of ride she was getting in for. But I'm so thankful for you Kathleen. I love you."

How does the old saying go? "Behind every great man is a great woman?"

One conversation with Kathleen Swinney reveals that indeed is the case in the Swinney household.

Imagine what it must have been like knowing your husband is getting the opportunity of a lifetime, but that it may only last seven weeks? Or imagine what it was like contemplating where they may have to move if he didn't end up getting the permanent job?

From the outside looking in, it had to have been exciting, but also somewhat stressful.

One would think it was her that kept everyone in the Swinney household's head on straight after the incredible turn of events the morning of Oct. 13 that led to Dabo being named the interim head coach for the Clemson football team.

Dabo knows it.

"She's my rock," he said. "Those of you that know her, you know what I mean. Those of you who don't, you'll be blessed when you do."

Kathleen says while it's been nothing short of a whirlwind since that day, she was at peace with whatever was going to happen after Saturday's win over South Carolina.

"We really were," she said. "Obviously the last few weeks have been crazy but we were at peace with whatever happened. The main thing we care about are these kids. We really feel like every one of these players is one of our own and our primary concern was with them.

"We have watched a lot of these players grow up and mature right before our eyes over the years and it all just feels like one big family to us."

Much like her husband and many in attendance for Monday's press conference, she too was feeling a wide range of emotions watching him accept the job of his dreams.

While holding her son Clay, she could be spotted shedding a tear or two as well.

"It makes you tear up," she said. "There have been so many years of hard work behind today. There's been so much we've all poured into this. It's basically your life. Seeing him up there makes you think about a lot of things but of course I'm proud. I'm really proud"

And it seems safe to say most, if not all Clemson fans feel the exact same way. Top Stories