Nick Saban's replacement? Paul Finebaum doesn't believe Dabo Swinney would leave Clemson for Alabama
Following his team’s latest national championship run, Clemson has rewarded Dabo Swinney with the richest contract in college football history. If you missed it last week, Clemson announced a 10-year, $93 million contract for Swinney.
The $9.3 million salary Swinney will receive over the next decade matches what Nick Saban is scheduled to make in Tuscaloosa through the 2025 season, however, the Clemson coach is now locked up through the 2029 season at Clemson.
Interestingly enough, Swinney has language in his contract that increases his buyout should he leave Clemson for Alabama. For example, if Swinney leaves Clemson before Dec. 31, 2020, he would owe the school $4 million. However, if Swinney left Clemson for Alabama, he would owe the school $6 million. Complete details of Swinney’s buyout can be read here.
During his most recent weekly Monday morning appearance on Birmingham-based WJOX 94.5 FM radio program “The Roundtable,” SEC Network host Paul Finebaum offered up his take on Clemson increasing Swinney’s buyout should he leave the school for Alabama.
“I think they just put that in there to have some fun. (Clemson AD) Dan Radakovich knows that Dabo Swinney is not going to Alabama anytime in the near future,” Finebaum said on the air.
For what it’s worth, Finebaum doesn’t currently believe Swinney has interest in leaving Clemson for Alabama. The way the SEC Network host views it, it’s much easier to win national titles at Clemson than it is at Alabama considering the path each program must take to reach the College Football Playoff.
“Assuming that Nick Saban leaves sometimes in the next two to three to four years, Dabo would not want any part of that,” Finebaum offered up during his appearance. “I can’t predict what Dabo would want to do maybe 10 years from now but I think he’s got a chance to keep racking up championships. I firmly believe he can win another championship or maybe two or three more at Clemson. Quite frankly, Dabo Swinney has a better chance at winning two national championships in the next five years at Clemson than Nick Saban does at Alabama.”
“I just think it’s a much easier path and frankly, as long as he can keep this staff together, he is a more formidable foe in the Playoffs, I think, than even Alabama.”
So if Dabo doesn’t answer the call to come home, where would Alabama turn next to eventually replace Saban? Finebaum believes the next coach to get the call from Tuscaloosa would be the coach running the program on Rocky Top.
“I think if you had to put odds on… Right now, if you say, ‘OK, put me $10 on the next coach at Alabama.’ I would put my money on Jeremy Pruitt,” Finebaum continued. “That’s assuming he has success at Tennessee, but I think if he has any level of success, he would move up into that upper echelon, because he’s got the ties; he’s got the understanding of the job.
“That’s the one thing people don’t understand about Alabama, you can’t just import a coach, let’s say Chris Petersen, as good as he is, and have him land at Alabama and be able to figure it out. Nick Saban is the only so-called outsider that’s been able to do that, and the reason is he had already been at an SEC school. He understands the culture of the SEC, and on top of all that, he’s the best coach of all time.”
Pruitt leading Tennessee out of the darkness and back to relevance in the SEC only to have him leave to coach SEC rival Alabama would be the most Tennessee thing ever. Based on the last decade of dysfunction on Rocky Top, nothing would surprise at this point, even the head coach leaving to coach against the Volunteers on an annual basis.