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Dabo Swinney Defends Having College Football’s 2nd-Highest Salary

  • The Clemson head coach went on a rant when a fan asked how he can justify his salary given the Tigers’ poor performance this season.
  • Swinney ($10.9M) ranks as the second-highest-paid head coach in college football for the 2023 season behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban ($11.4M).
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney speaks in the Smart Family Media Center of the Poe Indoor Facility in Clemson, South Carolina.
Ken Ruinard / Staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Before this season, Clemson football hadn’t lost four games since 2011. Eight games into the 2023 season, the Tigers sit at 4-4 and frustrations are beginning to boil over for fans with head coach Dabo Swinney — and his exorbitant salary. 

On Monday evening, Swinney fielded questions from fans during his weekly hit on Clemson’s Tiger Calls radio program. One fan — “Tyler from Spartanburg” — asked the 53-year-old how he can justify his $10.9 million salary given Clemson’s poor performance.

Swinney went on an epic rant.

“I started as the lowest-paid head coach in this freaking business and I’m where I am because I’ve worked my ass off every single day,” he said. “So if you’ve got a problem with that, I don’t care. I work for the board of trustees, the president, and the AD, and if they’re tired of me leading this program, all they gotta do is let me know.

“I don’t give a crap how much money I make, you ain’t gonna talk to me like I’m 12 years old.”

While Swinney took “100% responsibility” for the Tigers’ bad season, he also said that fans have not properly appreciated the fact that, under his watch, Clemson has 12 consecutive 10-win seasons, two national championships, as well as the second-most NFL draft picks and second-most wins in the country during his time there.

Some onlookers online thought that the criticism was justified, however: Writer Kim McCauley noted that Swinney is the highest-paid public employee in South Carolina, so taxpayers should have a right to be upset.

Swinney ranks as the second-highest-paid head coach in college football for the 2023 season behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban ($11.4M).

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