College Football Coach Wins National Championship After Overcoming Tumultuous Childhood
According to almost everyone, the Alabama Crimson Tide had one of the greatest defenses in college football history, and for the 2017 NCAA national championship game, they were favored to beat the Clemson Tigers, but history had something else in store for us.
Now, after the game has taken place, AGAIN according to almost everyone, the game is being called one of the greatest in the history of college football.
In last year’s championship game, the 13-1 Alabama Crimson Tide beat the previously undefeated Clemson Tigers 45–40, so this was a rematch of these two heavyweight teams, meeting again in the championship game for the second straight year.
The game was close in the second half, and like a heavyweight boxing match, the two teams slugged each other mercilessly, looking for the knockout blow. Alabama TE OJ Howard took Freshman QB Jalen Hurts’ throw to him 68 yards for a touchdown as the third quarter was near expiration and Alabama lead Clemson, 24-14.
Like déjà vu, history was repeating itself for Clemson, because Howard had a 53-yard touchdown against them in the 2015 championship game. But instead of saying, “here we go again”, the Tigers roared back, taking a 28-24 lead with 4:38 left in the game.
Alabama’s QB Hurts scrambled into the end zone from 30 yards out to give Alabama a 31-28 lead with only about two minutes left in the game, but you know what happens when an animal is cornered. The Tigers roared back again,, scoring the game-winning touchdown to make it Clemson 35, Alabama 31, with one second left on the clock.
After the game, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, “That has to be one of the greatest games of all time.”
But not only did the team come back from adversity, but Dabo Swinney came back as well. Dabo grew up with an alcoholic father, who lost the family’s appliance repair business. Dabo would hide in the backyard or sleep on the roof when his father would come home drunk.
During this difficult time, with little money to support them, after Dabo’s mother divorced from his father, they were both evicted from their home and had to sleep at family or friends’ homes. Dabo was able to enroll at Alabama to further his education and he and his mother slept in the same apartment bedroom for several years.
He walked-on at Alabama as a young football player. “I was the first one in my family to go to college,” Dabo says. “I was one of those kids who watched the Bear Bryant Show every Sunday, and every time Alabama played, I was listening on the radio. I’d fight you if you talked bad about Alabama. It was surreal for me to finally be introduced as part of the program. At first, I just wanted to be on the team. Then I wanted to gain some respect. Then it was, ‘OK, I want to play.’ And then I wanted to get a scholarship.”
By the time his college football playing career ended, he was the starting wide receiver for Alabama when they beat the legendary Miami Hurricanes team during their heyday in 1993.
Now, incredibly, as a coach, he has beaten the team he once played for, and revered as a child.
Dabo’s winding road of life led him to places he would have never imagined going to when his father came home drunk at night and he had to sleep on the roof of his soon to be former home. The homeless now comes home a champion.