“Clemson Tough” tells story of Tigers’ magical season and the coach who led them there


Throughout his life, Dabo Swinney has been proving his doubters wrong.

He was told he couldn’t walk on at Alabama. He did. He was told he couldn’t earn a scholarship. He did.

When the little-known assistant coach was named Clemson’s interim head coach after Terry Bowden resigned six games into the 2008 season, he was told he couldn’t get the job for good. He did.

“This guy has been told all his life that he couldn’t do something,” said Larry Williams of TigerIllustrated.com and author of  “Clemson Tough: Guts and Glory Under Dabo Swinney,” the story behind Clemson’s 2015 season. The book, published by Arcadia Publishing, is now already in its second printing even though the official release date was Feb. 15, just five weeks after the season ended with a five-point loss to Alabama in the National Championship Game.

“Dabo has been proving doubters wrong all of his life. It fit perfectly for the narrative of the season,” Williams said.

That’s because even while the Tigers finished the regular reason undefeated, won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and beat favored Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to play for the national championship against football powerhouse Alabama, doubters remained.

“They earned more respect nationally by losing to Alabama than they did by beating Oklahoma by 20 points,” Williams said.

Williams, who has written books about the Danny Ford era at Clemson and the Clemson-Carolina rivalry, said he realized after the Florida State game in November that 2015 was looking like a book-worthy season.

After the Tigers won the ACC Championship Game in early December, he had a book deal. He started writing the book the second week in December. It was about 85 percent written by the Orange Bowl. Four days after the National Championship Game, the manuscript was on its way to the publisher.

Williams didn’t want “Clemson Tough” to be a commemorative book.

“I wanted it to be more than the story of the season, far more than a play-by-play,” he said. “I wanted it to be the story of how they got to the point where they could beat the heavyweights of college football and be a heavyweight themselves.”



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