Leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, all we heard about on ESPN or any radio network was about Alabama’s dominance in college football.
The Crimson Tide was playing for an unprecedented fifth national championship in eight years. Nick Saban was attempting to tie Bear Bryant’s all-time record for national championships as a head coach with six, and was 5-0 in his five other national championship game appearances.
If there is a dynasty in college football, it is Alabama. However, could there be a new player in town? Could there finally be a challenger to Saban and his “It is all about the process” philosophy?
Could Clemson be that team?
Before you go and think I’m crazy or something, let me just present the facts. Since 2011, Clemson is the only team besides Alabama to win 70 games. The Crimson Tide is 76-8 during that stretch of time, while the Tigers are 70-13.
Besides Alabama, Clemson is the only team to win at least 10 games every year since 2011. In the last two years Alabama is 28-2 with a national championship. Clemson is 28-2 with a national championship as well.
Also, Clemson, led by head coach Dabo Swinney, is the only school to beat a Nick Saban coached Alabama squad in a national championship game.
Granted, none of that makes Clemson a dynasty. The Tigers have to win a few more national championships to be considered as such. However, you have to admit the thought is intriguing.
Swinney has quietly been building a giant in the ACC that isn’t likely to be conquered anytime soon. While he was losing five straight to his archrival South Carolina from 2009-’13, he and his staff kept their nose to the ground and kept working to build a program that could not only beat the Gamecocks, but would compete and play for ACC and national championships on a yearly basis.
Despite all the ridicule and speculation by the fans and the media alike, Swinney never deviated from his plan. He said from the time he became the head coach in 2009, Clemson could win a national championship again, and he proved it.
After leading Clemson to its first national championship in 35 years, Swinney promised it will not be 35 years again before it wins another one. I hope you did not pass that promise off.
After being blown out by West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl, the program’s first Orange Bowl appearance since 1982, Swinney said it will not be 30 years in between Orange Bowl appearances again. Since he made that promise, the Tigers have been back to the Orange Bowl two other times … a win over Ohio State in the 2014 Orange Bowl and a win over Oklahoma in the 2016 Orange Bowl.
After losing a heartbreaker to Alabama in the 2016 CFP National Championship Game, the Tigers first opportunity to win a national championship in 34 years, Swinney promised Clemson will not have to wait 34 years again to get back. Again, he kept his word.
The Tigers returned to the title game a year later and, as we all know, won the program its first national championship since the 1981 season.
Is Clemson built to win a national championship in 2017 and do something no ACC team has ever done in the league’s history in winning back-to-back national titles in football? I don’t know. Time will tell.
Is Clemson built for sustained success? Is it built to compete for ACC and National Championships for years to come? The recruiting hauls Swinney and his staff have brought in the last six years would indicate that Clemson is built for sustained success.
Is Clemson building a dynasty? I guess we are going to find out soon enough.
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