The Fellowship of Christian Athletes honored Clemson University Head Coach Dabo Swinney as the recipient of the 2014 Grant Teaff Coach of the Year Award and longtime college coach Art Baker with the 2014 Grant Teaff Lifetime Achievement Award at FCA Breakfast at the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Convention in Louisville, Ky., on Sunday, Jan. 11.
“The Fellowship of Christian Athletes honored two coaching greats who have not only put many W’s in the win column, but also impacted countless players during their careers,” said Les Steckel, President and CEO of FCA. “We congratulate Clemson University Head Coach Dabo Swinney and longtime coaching great Art Baker for their many, many contributions to college football.”
Former FCA President Dal Shealy, who remains involved in football ministry, said of Baker: “Art has been involved in FCA for almost 60 years and has been one of the most faithful and committed Christian coaching men I have ever known. He has been an outstanding coach at each football game in which he has served, both as an assistant and as a head coach.”
Of Swinney, Shealy added: “Dabo is a man who teaches and coaches with character. He is a family man and a player’s coach, and he stands tall for Christ in everything he does.”
Named after Grant Teaff, former Baylor University coach, AFCA executive director and Trustee Emeritus of the FCA Board of Trustees, the Coach of the Year Award presented by FCA recognizes a football coach who exemplifies Christian principles and who is involved in FCA. The award is also based on the success and performance of the coach’s team that season. Previous winners include Tommy Bowden, Tommy Tuberville and Jerry Kill.
The Grant Teaff Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a coach who has committed his life to being a Christian influence in the lives of student-athletes. Previous winners include Jimmie Keeling, Fisher DeBerry, Jerry Moore, Mel Tjeerdsma, Houston Nutt, Tony Dungy and Ken Sparks.
Dabo Swinney, at Clemson for just seven years as head coach, is making progress toward joining the university’s coaching legends of the past. In 2014, he led the Tigers to a 10-3 record, along with a win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Over the past several seasons, Clemson has earned two top-10 rankings in the USA Today poll. From 2011-13, Clemson had a 32-8 record, the most wins in a three-year period in school history. Swinney has also led the Tigers to two ACC Championship games, winning one, and has won or shared three ACC Atlantic Division titles.
Swinney has been a four-time finalist for the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year Award, which evaluates coaching performances in terms of coaching excellence, sportsmanship, integrity, academic excellence and community commitment. In 2013, he was also one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year Award for the second year in a row. Swinney was also named the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year in 2011, as well as a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year and the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year awards.
Swinney is active in his community through his foundation, which made the first contribution to the cancer fund established for former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. Many schools followed his lead.
The 1993 Alabama graduate and wide receiver on Alabama’s 1992 National Championship team first joined the Clemson staff prior to the 2003 season, and has a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation. In 2006, he was listed as the No. 5 recruiter in the nation by Rivals.com and signed 38 players in his five recruiting seasons as an assistant coach.
He and his wife, Kathleen, have three sons: Will, Drew and Clay.
Longtime coaching great Art Baker is a former head coach for Furman (1973-1977), The Citadel (1978-1982) and East Carolina (1985-1988). He is a 1953 graduate of Presbyterian College, where he also played football and served as an assistant coach.
Baker served as an assistant coach for Frank Howard at Clemson University from 1965-1969, at Texas Tech from 1970-1972, when he succeeded Bob King at Furman, and for Bobby Bowden at Florida State in 1984. As a head coach at Furman, Baker hired assistant coaches Dick Sheridan, Jimmy Satterfield and Bobby Johnson, who all later became Furman head coaches.
Baker closed out his career on June 30, 1995, when he retired after six years as Associate Athletics Director for Development and Gamecock Club Director at the University of South Carolina.