Dabo Swinney was asked dozens of questions by media members from around the country at Thursday’s ACC Kickoff event in Charlotte.
The Clemson coach, who has led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff three consecutive years, was the most popular person at the event, swarmed when he sat down to meet with media members in the breakout room at The Westin in downtown Charlotte.
Swinney met with representatives from ESPN, CBS Sports, newspapers, websites and radio outlets and was asked about the quarterback battle, his defensive line unit and how good the Tigers can be in 2018. The last question he received in the grand ballroom was about his faith.
He called that the “easiest” question he had all day.
“That’s just the priorities of my life,” Swinney said. “I think that I made a decision when I was 16. I grew up in a family that I was taught there was a God and all that, but I didn’t really have a relationship with Christ until I was 16. And that was a game changer for me. That’s really become the foundation of my life.”
Swinney has always been open about his faith, even drawing criticism at times from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
In the media spotlight, he continued to speak openly about being a devout Christian.
“It’s hard to survive and thrive in this world if you don’t have a spiritual foundation and have something that will give you peace, because life is hard,” Swinney said. “We’re all going to experience death and failure and setbacks and disappointments and cancer, and it’s just a really difficult world. For me, God is always, and my relationship with Christ, he’s given me hope and peace.
Swinney also said that his favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11, which states, “ ’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
“I’ve always taken that, and I’ve kind of applied that to my life along my journey. Everybody sees me now and I’m the head coach at Clemson and this and that, but my life hasn’t always been this way,” Swinney said. “If there’s really hope in the future, then there’s power in the present to deal with whatever mess you’re dealing with in your life, to step through, to hang in there, to persevere, to continue to believe in something, and that’s what my relationship with Christ did for me. It gave me a hope and a belief, the ability to have a hope and a belief beyond my circumstances.”
Swinney has led Clemson to three consecutive ACC titles, three consecutive College Football Playoff berths and the 2016 national title. But he said that probably the greatest accomplishment of his life “is to see my three sons come to know Christ and to know him as their Lord and savior.”
Swinney ended his sermon-like response by saying with a smile, “We can pass the bucket if y’all want and keep going.”