The Clemson Tigers have one of the best coaches in college football in Dabo Swinney. And to this day, many still don’t know Swinney’s real first name. But for what it’s worth, those people aren’t alone, as Dabo himself didn’t even know until a few years into his life.
As originally revealed by former sports reporter Derek Phillips, Swinney didn’t find out his real name until he was in third grade. And that was only due to the fact that he had to write it out on scantrons.
As Ron Morris of The State detailed, the story behind Dabo’s nickname stemmed from his younger brother. Back when Swinney’s brother, Tripp, was 15 months old, he would attempt to say “that boy” when referring to Dabo. The attempt made the words come out sounding like “Dabo” and that nickname hung around from then on.
Dabo’s real name is actually William, but there never seemed to be any interest in going back from the nickname. For what it’s worth, you’d have to envision that as a third-grader who’d always thought their name was one thing, there wouldn’t be much reason to try to get away from it.
In the same story from Morris above, Swinney spoke about playing during a baseball tournament and he was introduced as “William” but didn’t know they were talking about him at first.
Years later, during an all-star baseball tournament, the shortstop was introduced as “William Swinney.” At first, Swinney did not budge from the dugout.
“Oh, that’s me, isn’t it?” Dabo said, and he ran to the foul line.
Dabo Swinney’s Career at Clemson
Swinney took over as the Tigers head coach during the 2008 season and has been the team’s leader ever since. The 49-year-old coach has managed to have an exceptional amount of success to this point in his coaching career. Through the 2018 season (not including the National Championship), he’s posted a 115-30 record while going 8-5 in bowl games.
By far the most impressive aspect of what Swinney has done while at Clemson is leading the team to the College Football Playoff in four consecutive seasons. This stretch ran from the 2016 playoff to 2019, and the Tigers won the title in 2016 over the Alabama Crimson Tide. The outcome of their trip to the championship this year hasn’t been completed, but if Clemson wins, that will mark two championships in a four-year span. Both victories will have come against Alabama as well.