Do you remember when everyone was saying Clemson and Florida State should leave the ACC and join the Big 12?
Everyone was saying Clemson and Florida State will never win a national championship in football again as long as the conference’s two biggest football programs remained in a basketball conference. Well, how has that worked out?
Since those early summer days in 2012, Clemson and Florida State have both returned to the top of the college football mountain. The Seminoles won the 2013 National Championship—the last one in the BCS era—while it was also a participant in the first ever College Football Playoff in 2014.
Heading into the 2017 season, Clemson is the defending national champions after taking down big-bad Alabama in the national championship game this past January. The Tigers were also the national runners-up in 2016.
The ACC is the only conference in the nation to have two football national champions in the past four years. With Clemson reaching the College Football Playoff Championship Game for the second straight year, the ACC now has had a team in college football’s Championship Game in three of the last four years, a feat matched only by the SEC.
The good news for the ACC, neither program is going anywhere anytime soon. Clemson and Florida State will both enter the 2017 season as two of the favorites to win the ACC and the winner of the Nov. 11 game in Death Valley will likely represent the ACC in the College Football Playoff for a fourth straight year.
Both programs have recruited at a high level, too. In each of the last six years, Clemson and Florida State have hauled in top 10 recruiting classes, which give them both the opportunity to compete at the highest level. Also, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and FSU’s Jimbo Fisher are both in their late 40s and both seem to be entrenched into their respected programs and in their local communities.
When Swinney’s new deal is restructured later this year, they both will be ranked among the top 5 highest paid coaches in college football.
Also, let’s not forget, the ACC has improved overall as a conference too. One can argue the ACC was the best conference in college football last year. Not only did the league have the national champion in Clemson, but it also went a national best 9-3 in bowl games. The nine wins tied the NCAA record for most postseason triumphs set in 2005 by the SEC. Prior to the 2016 season, the ACC had not had more than five bowl wins in a single season.
A total of 11 ACC teams ended 2016 with winning records, the most of any FBS league and the most in ACC history. The next highest total by any other conference was eight teams. Also, the ACC went 10-4 against SEC teams in 2016, the best ever against its rival conference.
It also had the Heisman Trophy Winner in Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and the Heisman runner-up in Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.
The way I look at it, all of those talking heads and columnist out there that were saying Clemson and Florida State should leave the ACC and join a real football conference, owe the ACC an apology. They got it wrong.
Clemson and Florida State have won national championships because they were in the ACC and because of that same reason they will compete for a whole lot more in the years to come. Maybe even another one this year.