Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had a a lot to be proud of on Monday night during the Tigers' 44-16 win over Alabama in the national title game. However, the one thing he was most proud of was the way that his team finished off the Crimson Tide, steamrolling them with a ten minute drive that began at Clemson's own one yard line and ended the game with the Tigers still possessing the football having not even crossed the goal line yet.
"Nobody's really asked me about that," Swinney said during an interview on my radio show on SportsRadio 610. "It's the longest drive in Clemson history. For us to get the ball at the half yard line and keep it for ten minutes, that's the will of our team. That was a special drive."
As it turns out, that was also the capper on Swinney not only winning his second national title, but also winning his third Paul "Bear" Bryant Award coach of the year award in four seasons, making Swinney the first three-time winner of the award, just 48 hours after becoming the first FBS head coach of the modern era to go 15-0 over the course of an entire season. Swinney was given the award Wednesday night at the Post Oak Hotel here in Houston.
"It's not about the X's and O's, it's about the hearts and souls," Swinney said. "And I've got a great group of young people who lay it on the line."
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Swinney was selected as the best college head coach by the National Sports Media Association. The other finalists were UAB's Bill Clark, Central Florida's Josh Heupel, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Army's Jeff Monken, Alabama's Nick Saban and Fresno State's Jeff Tedford.
Each of the head coaches selected as finalists had his own unique story. Clark resurrected UAB from a program shutdown in 2015 and 2016 to a Conference USA title in 2018. Heupel led UCF to its second consecutive undefeated regular season. Kelly and Saban both led their teams to the College Football Playoff. Monkey led Army to its second consecutive double digit win season, and a Top 25 finish. Finally, Tedford led his alma mater to its second consecutive double digit win season after the program won one game in 2016.
In the end, though, Swinney was the easy choice, just two days after handing Saban the worst loss of his Alabama head coaching career on the biggest stage possible. This marks the second major Coach of the Year honor for Swinney during the 2018 season, as he also won the Woody Hayes Award last month.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.