If nothing else, Dabo Swinney is extremely consistent with this bit of lingering and ongoing speculation. Swinney is a native of Birmingham, Ala., and played wide receiver for Alabama in the early nineties. Given that connection, the school of thought is that, when Nick Saban decides to retire, the Crimson Tide’s first call will be to Swinney. “You don’t ever say never,” the Clemson head coach said in November of 2015, a little over a year before the Tigers beat the Tide for the 2016 national championship, when asked about such a possibility. “You don’t ever know what the circumstances would be at any given time.” Fast-forward to the here and now, and Swinney is singing from the same hymnal when it comes to talk of replacing Saban. “I’ve always said you never say never because you never know what the dynamics will be,” the coach said Wednesday on the Kirk Herbstreit/Ian Fitzsimmons podcast. In August of this year, the 47-year-old Swinney — he’ll be 48 in November — reached an agreement on a new seven-year, $54 million contract that leaves him signed through the 2024 season. Swinney would owe the university a $6 million buyout if he leaves anytime between now and Dec. 31, 2018. That number would then drop to $4 million if he leaves before Dec. 31, 2019, then drops by $1 million each year through the same date in 2022. It would then be $1 million for the final two seasons on the deal.