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Sources: Clemson hires Swinney as head coach

CLEMSON -- Turned out Clemson did not have to go far for Tommy Bowden's replacement as football coach.

Only across the hall that dissects the football offices, in fact.

Dabo Swinney, retained from Bowden's staff to serve as the Tigers' interim coach the last six games, has agreed in principle to become Clemson's next coach, multiple sources said Sunday evening.

An announcement is expected to come today, although it could be delayed until Tuesday at the latest.

Several contractual details have yet to be finalized, and the announcement could be made before terms even are completed.

Swinney, 39, spent the previous five seasons as the team's receivers coach.

Athletics director Terry Don Phillips promoted Swinney to the interim job when Bowden preemptively resigned Oct. 13.

Clemson had a 3-3 record at the time, with two of the wins coming against lower-division opponents.

Since taking over, Swinney has guided the Tigers to a 4-2 finish, highlighted by Saturday's dominating 31-14 victory over rival USC, as well as a spot in a yet-undetermined postseason bowl game.

According to a source, Swinney was not offered the job immediately after the USC game, hopefully, to avoid the misconception he got the job based on the outcome alone.

But it certainly could not have hurt.

Swinney was offered the job Sunday afternoon by Phillips in a job interview scheduled last week.

One of the topics for discussion was to be which Clemson assistants Swinney planned to retain and what assistants he planned to pursue from other staffs.

While the specifics remain unclear, Swinney is expected at least to keep recruiting coordinator Billy Napier and offensive line coach Brad Scott, a source said.

Phillips also is known to have interviewed Tennessee-bound Lane Kiffin, formerly of the NFL's Oakland Raiders; Air Force coach Troy Calhoun; Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables; Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley; and Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

A source said Phillips has spoken with several head coaches whose identities have yet to be reported.

Multiple media outlets reported Texas Christian coach Gary Patterson interviewed with Phillips in Texas a week ago, but separate sources close to Patterson and Clemson insist the two parties never met.

While interim coaches rarely are given serious consideration for the full-time job, Phillips did little to hide his affinity for Swinney, making it clear he would be granted more than a cursory look for the position.

Phillips was impressed with the varied ways Swinney galvanized a team and fan base fractured by several years of unmet expectations.

Swinney instituted the popular "Tiger Walk," in which fans line up to greet the team as it walks to the stadium two hours before home games.

He allowed students into one practice, then called off a subsequent workout to take the team to a children's hospital.

Swinney, a former Alabama walk-on receiver, is credited for instilling a more physical brand of football since taking over Clemson's offense.

"It appears to me Dabo's heading the right path we need to go down," Phillips said less than two weeks after Swinney got the interim tag.

That sentiment was echoed Saturday by several prominent players. Star junior running back C.J. Spiller has said he would return for his senior year if Swinney was retained, and senior quarterback Cullen Harper suggested that Phillips' decision had to be a no-brainer.

"I don't know what more you could ask for -- coach Swinney has it all," Harper said. "He's got the respect of the players, he's turned this program around in six weeks and the team is behind him and believing."

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