Dabo Swinney is one of the great coaches in America. No argument there.

He’s also insufferable. And he says some really ridiculous things. No one can argue that, either.

During a week when he’s consistently thrown some passive-aggressive shade at Ohio State for (through no fault of its own, mind you) only playing 6 games, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the best (or worst) examples of things Swinney has said that’s ruffled some Buckeyes fans’ feathers.


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In short, these are seven things Swinney has said over the years (or even over the last few days) that make Ohio State fans hate him. Now, I’ve tried to stay away from anything really controversial, like race or social justice — although Dabo has said a lot about those things, too, some of which really make you want to roll your eyes. I also don’t care that he talks about his faith. It’s a big part of who he is and I’m fine with that.

So in this story, I’m just sticking to the topic of football. Because Swinney has said enough about that to write several of these kinds of stories.

Here’s some examples:

7. His recruiting comments rub fans the wrong way

In 2017, Dabo said it’s possible he discussed then-Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s future with 5-star offensive lineman Jackson Carman. Carman confirmed as much and went on to say the discussion was a factor in his decision to sign with Clemson.

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“When you recruit, you evaluate everything on a program,” Swinney said. “I can’t recall specifically, but it sounds like something that may have come up when we talked about coaches.”

I get it. It’s not the worst thing in the world. Coaches have and will do much worse. It’s just one of those things that makes Swinney seem smarmy. Just come out and admit it. Say that coaches are smarmy when they recruit. We know it’s true!

“I’m a guy that’s been here for 15 years, and there are obvious differences when you compare coaches, if they’re at different stages in life,” Swinney said. “In recruiting, you talk about anything and everything a recruit wants to talk about that seems relevant.”

6. He thinks Ohio State doesn’t belong

This has become a topic Swinney has talked a lot about recently. Whether it was voting them 11th in his coaches poll, or campaigning for other teams to be in the Playoff, here’s a taste of a few quotes about Ohio State’s not belonging:

“It’s almost like you’ve got to have 120 hours to get a business degree and yet these people over here only need 60 hours to get a business degree,” Swinney said.

And how about breaking down film on the Buckeyes leading up to their semifinal game?

“That’ll be a quick study for us, because there’s only six [games],” Swinney said on the Packer & Durham show. “So that’ll be a little easier. Typically you’re going into these games, you’ve got 13 games to study so it won’t be as daunting of a task there.”

5. The Little Ol’ Clemson routine is growing tired

The aw, shucks thing worked for a while, just as the same theme (and the tears) have worked for Roy Williams in basketball. Here’s a few comments that everyone — opposing teams, coaches, media, and probably his own fans — have grown tired of:

  • “We’re the rednecks who moved into the nice neighborhood, but we belong.”
  • “I am kinda like Osama bin Dabo. I have to navigate my way through the caves and back channels to make my way through Alabama these days. They aren’t happy to see me, but it’s all good. It’s a good problem.”
  • “That’s been my word all year: Love. And I said tonight we’re gonna win it because we love each other.”

It should be noted that Swinney was joking when comparing himself to bin Laden. But the idea of being the little engine that could — and for that matter, winning with love — is so over. You’re Clemson. You’re the big dog now. You win with your 5-star recruits.

4. He’s a hypocrite when it comes to college athletes and money

“As far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that’s where you lose me,” Swinney said in April 2014. “I’ll go do something else, because there’s enough entitlement in this world as it is.”

Does he mean entitlement like college coaches (like him) who make more than $9 million a year? Is that the kind of entitlement we’re talking about?

The hypocrisy here is appalling.

3. The Heisman should just be handed to Trevor Lawrence (and renamed?)

We got this gem just a few days ago:

“It would be a crying shame if the Heisman Trophy doesn’t attach its name to Trevor Lawrence,” Swinney said. “That’s what I’ve got to say about that guy.”

I’m all for sticking up for your player. But the drama in this statement just made me laugh.

I wonder: From now on, will we just call it The Lawrence Trophy?

2. His opinion of player concussions is skewed

In October 2016, Swinney was asked about the safety of the game, and whether players are hiding possible concussions to continue to play.

“Just the opposite … the game is safer than it’s ever been,” he said.

The same year, a study by Harvard and Boston University (reported by ESPN’s Outside the Lines) revealed that 26 of 27 concussions in college football are likely unreported. Players are bigger and faster than ever before. And they will try to stay on the field at whatever cost. To say anything else is just not true.

1. Pre-COVID, he needed to slow his roll

In April of this year, Swinney was asked whether he thought the season would be played. He responded with this epic analogy:

“Oh absolutely. My preference is let’s get to work and let’s go play,” Swinney said. “That’s the best-case scenario and I think that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t have any doubt. … I mean I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing. The stands are going to be packed and the Valley is going to be rocking. Zero doubt. That’s the only thought I have, right there. All that rest of the stuff, I don’t think about any of that.

“I mean, this is America, man. We’ve stormed the beaches of Normandy, we’ve sent a car that’s driven around Mars, we’ve walked on the moon. This is the greatest country and the greatest people in the history of the planet. We’ve created an iPhone where I can sit here and talk to all you people in all these different places. We got the smartest people in the world. Listen, we’re going to rise up and we’re gonna kick this thing right in the teeth and we’ll get back to our lives.”

Well — and I guess this applies to most everything he says — I think he’s right about some of that.