William Christopher “Dabo” Swinney, the head coach of the Clemson Tigers, will play for a National Championship on Monday Night against the vaunted and seemingly invincible Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m rooting for Dabo, not only because of his insanely cool, country boy name, and not because of his faith or the fact that he’s had a life of family pain and poverty, but because of his manly, macho motto: “Bring Your Own Guts!”
Dabo, that’s right Dabo (how do you get the name Dabo?), took in his mother while playing at Alabama. ALABAMA!? Wow. How’s that for irony? He played AND coached at Alabama, and now he’s got to go through ‘BAMA to reach his ultimate goal. Dabo also reconciled with his alcoholic father before his death. Tear-jerker stuff.
Monday’s championship game will not be his life’s biggest battle, just the most recent. And I just checked on the name “Dabo:” this nickname was given to him as an infant by his parents when his then-18-month-old brother would try to enunciate “that boy” when referring to Swinney. Ok. I guess that’s just a southern thing.
Anyway, I like Dabo. I like the name and I like his game. I like his maxim and his motto. “Bring Your Own Guts.” This principle and proverb applies to sports and to life. It applies to the pros and the para-professionals. And it applies to collegiate champions and to high school letterman alike. Everyone needs guts, but you’ve got to bring your own. You can’t live off of mine, and you can’t make it without yours. It’s that simple, and yet it’s that profound.
When I perspire, I can inspire and I can preach hellfire, but at the end of the day, you better bring your own heart and your own spirit and your own mettle and your own muster. Because everyone needs to learn how to aspire to be all they can be. In other words, bring your own guts.
I like another thing Dabo said. He’s a tough coach but he loves and is loved by his players. That’s why he’s right on another note: “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” Wow. The Apostle Paul couldn’t have said it better. Rules, rules, rules. They breed refusal and rejection and resentment and ultimately rebellion. But with relationship, rules restore and redeem and reconcile. It’s so spiritual. And yet many still don’t get it.
But I do. And I hope you do too. So thanks Dabo. Thanks for being a walk on at Alabama and for graduating with honors and for having the guts to coach Clemson with gusto. Alabama may look good, but your guts will hopefully lead to Clemson’s glory on Monday night.