Dabo: 'I can spend 5 minutes at a place and know exactly what their culture is'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday June 22, 2017


Dabo Swinney says he senses a high school program’s culture right away, and it doesn’t matter if they have the nicest tools.

Swinney recently recorded an hourlong interview on organizational culture for the Southern Textile Association / Join Fiber Buyer annual meeting in South Carolina. Asked about company culture, he compared it to recruiting.

“When you get around a company that’s got a great culture, you can smell it. You see it on the walls. You hear it,” Swinney said. “That’s why I like to go on the road in December and January recruiting. I love to go to these schools, and I can spend five minutes at a place and know exactly what type of culture they’re coming from. It’s a culture of commitment, or it’s a culture of compromise. I can tell just like that.

“Sometimes, I go to these places that don’t have a whole lot, school’s in bad shape, but there’s so much pride in what they have. Sometimes I go to schools that have a lot, and it’s a mess. There’s entitlement, instead of empowerment. This is a program of empowerment here. That’s the culture we’ve established.”

It’s a similar to comment to what Urban Meyer told campers recently. The tone that’s set shortly after walking in the door

Swinney said he’s kept the Clemson culture focused on four factors: graduate players, give them "tools for life," have a good college experience and be a champion. It hasn’t changed since he took over. It's a lot of clichés, but it comes down to relationships, and Swinney's had the results, especially coming off a national title.

“Back when I was coming up, go run the bleachers, and you went and did it, asked no questions,” Swinney said. “Now, the difference in these kids, they’ll still do, but you have to be able to tell them why. If you can’t articulate why, then they ain’t listening to you. That goes back to the relationships. The whole philosophy of our program, the root of it, it relationship.

“If you go in our staff room, you’ll see a graphic, our philosophy is to serve their heart, not their talent. That’s the philosophy of our program. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.