Swinney was named the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year on Wednesday night following the Tigers’ historic 15-0 season that was capped Monday by a dominating 44-16 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
It is the third time Swinney has earned the honor; all three awards have come in the past four years. He’ll have to make more room in his office for yet another bust of one of his childhood idols.
“I’ve got plenty of room, so I’ll stick this one right there by it,” Swinney said. “To have your name associated with this trophy and Coach Bryant is an honor.”
“It’s kinda like winning a national championship. … Coach Bryant, the legacy that he left and example that he set for all of us coaches and for me, personally … this is one of my heroes.”
Swinney won from among an impressive group of finalists that included Alabama’s Nick Saban, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, UCF’s Josh Heupel, UAB’s Bill Clark, Army’s Jeff Monken and Fresno State’s Jeff Tedford.
Swinney has led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff in each of the past four seasons and a 55-4 record during that span. This season’s Tigers are the first team since the 1800s to finish 15-0.
Swinney won the Bear Bryant award following the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Scott Frost took it home in 2017, on the heels of his undefeated season at UCF.
During Wednesday’s ceremony, Swinney brought up Clemson associate athletic director of football administration Woody McCorvey to the lectern with him. McCorvey, who has been on the Clemson staff since 2008, was Swinney’s position coach at Alabama. Swinney credited McCorvey with instilling a belief in him as a player, something he said he has carried with him to this day.
“He’s been with me since day one that I got this job,” Swinney said. “He ought to have his name on that trophy as well, for sure, especially with all the gray hair he’s got, dealing with me.”
The coaching honor for Swinney continues a celebratory week for the Tigers, with have a parade slated for Saturday and a team banquet that evening to celebrate the season.
“This will be an extended, joyous week because we’ve got a lot going on,” Swinney said.
The Tigers will start focusing on their title defense soon, however. Their first team meeting for the 2019 season is scheduled for Friday, and spring practice is about seven weeks out.
“I can’t wait for that, kinda reset the room and set the charge on what we want to do in this 2019 journey,” Swinney said. “I can’t wait to get started.”