ESPN: Dabo Swinney never “seriously in the mix” for Alabama job

A new report from ESPN’s Chris Low Wednesday offered new insight and information about the whirlwind of events that began with Nick Saban announcing his retirement as head coach at Alabama, to the Crimson Tide landing on Washington’s Kalen DeBoer over a detailed (and rather revealing) 49-hour period back in January.

During his lengthy profile for ESPN, Low alluded to Alabama’s interest in Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, a former walk-on receiver for the Crimson Tide in the early 90s under coach Gene Stallings.

Or rather, Alabama’s apparent lack of interest in Swinney.

According to Low, Swinney was never “seriously in the mix” to replace Saban. Neither was Lane Kiffin, the Ole Miss coach and former Alabama offensive coordinator who helped Saban’s 2015 team win the national championship and who many speculated would also be a top candidate to replace Saban.

Per Low’s report:

Immediately, there was speculation that Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin were possible candidates. Swinney played and coached at Alabama, and Kiffin worked at Alabama under Saban. Both were part of national championship teams at Alabama.

Byrne said there were conversations in his circle about a handful of candidates, but sources told ESPN that neither Swinney nor Kiffin was seriously in the mix.

Low also included a tidbit involving another ACC head coach that had been rumored for the Alabama job following Saban’s retirement: Florida State’s Mike Norvell.

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne had been impressed by Norvell’s track record in his four seasons at Florida State. Norvell had just led the Seminoles to an undefeated 12-0 regular season, an ACC championship, and an Orange Bowl appearance. Norvell had previously coached at Memphis, a program he guided to an appearance in the 2019 Cotton Bowl.

In Wednesday’s report, Low stressed that Florida State officials had expressed fear that Norvell was “close to trading his FSU garnet for Alabama crimson.”

From Low:

In fact, in the wee hours of that Friday morning, the fear among Florida State officials was that Norvell was close to trading his FSU garnet for Alabama crimson. Sources told ESPN that Florida State was poised to move quickly if that happened and that Kiffin would be a prime candidate to replace Norvell.

What might have happened had Byrne expressed more of an interest in Swinney? Would Swinney have accepted the job to return to his alma mater, as many had long speculated he would?

And what if Norvell had accepted the job in Tuscaloosa amid, among other things, a brewing legal battle between Florida State and the ACC over FSU’s desire to leave the conference?

One of the few things Clemson and Florida State fans can agree on: they’re glad that their respective head coaches stayed put.


Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire