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Clemson announced Thursday it signed head football coach Dabo Swinney to a contract extension through 2031.
According to Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger, Swinney will make $115 million over the term of his new 10-year deal, making him the second-highest-paid head coach in FBS after Nick Saban.
This follows the current trend in college football, with schools spending extravagantly to hire new coaches or keep the ones they already have.
Most recently, Alabama’s Nick Saban signed an eight-year, $93.6 million extension, which made him the highest-paid coach in the country. He surpassed Georgia’s Kirby Smart, who will collect $112.5 million over 10 years.
There have been no indications Swinney was getting restless at Clemson, and it’s difficult to envision him ever leaving at this point. He has been with the program since 2003, and this is his 15th season as head coach.
He’s an Alabama alumnus, so perhaps a return to Tuscaloosa after Saban retires could be on the cards. But that’s still some way off from becoming a possibility.
Given the achievements the 52-year-old has helped to deliver, a pay raise comes as little surprise. Under his watch, the Tigers have won two national championships and claimed seven ACC titles.
Clemson is coming off a disappointing 2021 season, however, one that began to raise some larger questions.
Swinney has become a victim of his own success, to a degree, because a 10-3 record and finishing 14th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll would’ve been qualified as a success years ago. Now, any year in which Clemson isn’t in the College Football Playoff is considered almost a failure.
But last September, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman and Grace Raynor laid out how some thought the Tigers were stagnating a bit offensively, with one ACC assistant calling the team “very predictable.” The team averaged 359.2 yards per game, down from 502.3 in 2020, and ranked 71st in ESPN’s offensive SP+ metric.
Swinney then had an offseason in which he had to replace his offensive (Tony Elliott) and defensive (Brent Venables) coordinators. Rather than look outside of the program, he promoted from within. Quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter replaced Elliott, while defensive assistant Wes Goodwin and safeties coach Mickey Conn are sharing Venables’ old job.
Although some thought it was a perfect opportunity to bring some new voices into the fold, maintaining the status quo could be the right approach.
It’s too early to tell for now. Clemson beat Georgia Tech 41-10 in its opener, a score that’s slightly flattering since the Tigers scored 17 points in the final nine minutes of the game.
Especially on the heels of signing his new contract, Swinney will have time to continue seeing his vision through even if the team experiences some bumps in the road.