NFL: NFL Draft

Clemson Tigers Dabo Swinney walks onto the stage prior to the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Downtown Nashville.

It just went under the radar.

That’s really the only explanation for why Dabo Swinney’s “Osama bin Dabo” comment hasn’t been a topic of conversation.

Until now.

First, the questions asked of Swinney were in jest: Is there a wall around the state of Alabama that doesn’t let you in anymore? Or around Pelham, Alabama? Can you still go home?

The answer:

“I think it was all fun and games early on. It was, ‘Aww, isn’t that sweet’ and all that stuff. I don’t know about walls, but I am kinda like Osama bin Dabo,” Swinney said, laughing. “I have to navigate my way through the caves and back channels to make my way through Alabama these days. They aren’t happy to see me, but it’s all good. It’s a good problem.”

Now, for a little context.

Swinney was a guest on Sirius XM’s “Basketball & Beyond with Coach K.” Yes, that Coach K, as in Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. The interview took place Feb. 14, and the topics were geared to the CFP national championship win over Alabama just weeks before.

Krzyzewski asked Swinney whether there was a wall around his home state because of his success against Alabama in two of the past three seasons.

“It’s almost like you are playing your cousin or your brother. Even though you are brothers, and they blow the whistle, you want to compete and you want to win,” Swinney continued. “But when it’s over, you hate you lost. You are like, ‘Crap, I lost. But at least it’s to my brother.’ I think they’ve made me a stepbrother now. But I am still in the family.”

So, how does a conversation between two high-profile coaches like that fly under the radar for months?

Or better yet, why is it a topic of conversation now?

Well, the first question is still an unknown, but we have some clarity on how it came to light.

David Hood of wrote about the interview this week.

When reached by, Hood said, like most interesting stories, he just stumbled up on it, searching Sirius’ web site for a previous Swinney interview he didn’t find. He came across the interview and gave it a listen.

Sixteen minutes into the show, Hood said the coach’s speculation of the perception of him in his home state is what he found interesting.

It appears college football fans found the reference to bin Laden more interesting.

Reaction is typical of this type of story around this time of year. Based on social media reaction, Clemson fans say move on, nothing to see here. South Carolina fans, on the other hand, have new-found ammunition for their year-long feud with their rivals.

Swinney, it should be noted, was, of course, joking, and Krzyzewski was in on it.

In addition, the Pelham, Alabama, native has always shown love for his home state and the Crimson Tide, returning to Tuscaloosa in 2017 to take part in the 1992 national championship reunion.

And, there is the constant speculation Swinney will replace Nick Saban when Alabama’s coach decides to call in quits. It is such a point of conversation that Swinney’s recent contract extension includes an “an enhanced buyout” if Alabama comes calling.

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