Spring 2021 Magazine

Dabo Swinney coaches Clemson to 2nd national title, praises 'the good Lord'

With 30 unanswered points leading to a decisive 44-16 victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship, Clemson captured its second national title in three years on Monday night. The game pitted the only remaining unbeaten teams in the land, but it is the Tigers who close the season undefeated.

The win distinguishes Clemson as the first undefeated champion in the playoff era, and the first 15-0 team in the modern era. The Penn Quakers of 1897 were the last major college football team win 15 games in a season.

Immediately following the final whistle Monday night, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was interviewed on the field by ESPN. And the affable and unashamed coach wasted no time in praising God.

“To get to do it once and then get to do it again, it’s a blessing,” Swinney told ESPN. “It’s just simply the grace of the good Lord to allow us experience something like this. … All the credit, all the glory goes to the good Lord — No. 1. And No. 2, to these young people.”

One of the youngest people on Swinney’s squad is quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a true freshman who took over as the team’s starter in Week 5. With 347 passing yards and three touchdowns, Lawrence was named the championship game’s offensive MVP. He becomes just the second true freshman in FBS history to win a national championship as a team’s starting QB.

Lawrence is also a strong man of faith. “The leadership we’ve had from these seniors — I’ve never been a part of anything like it,” Lawrence told ESPN. “Really just so blessed and fortunate that this is my first year in college and I got to be with these guys.”

Swinney heaped much praise on his players, as well as on Alabama. But after handing coach Nick Saban the worst loss of his Alabama tenure (during which he’s won five national titles), Swinney was in awe of God.

“I said this two years ago: You can’t write a Hollywood script like this. Only God can do this, and that’s a fact. People may think I’m crazy or quacky or whatever, but only God can orchestrate this. No Hollywood producer can write it,” Swinney told ESPN.

The coach didn’t stop praising his Lord when interviewed minutes later after the trophy presentation. From the dais, he told the massive television audience: “I’m just going to say this, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart because it is a privilege for anybody to be able to experience a moment like this. So many coaches and great players never get this opportunity, and for us to get to do it twice, it’s just the grace of God. It’s a blessing.”

And before closing the interview, Swinney made sure to let everyone know Clemson will be back next year.

“To God be the glory — we going to enjoy this tonight,” he told ESPN. “But on Friday, we’re going to have another team meeting and we’re going to get locked in on next year. A new journey.”

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