After the 2010 season, no one around the Clemson football program, its fans, it administration or the media saw what was about to come.
And it is not just about winning a national championship, but it is a level of consistency that has never before been seen at Clemson. Jess Neely never did it. Frank Howard never did it, not even Danny Ford did it.
In each of the last six years, Clemson has won 10 or more games, including back-to-back 11-win campaigns and back-to-back 14-win seasons. Prior to the 2011 football season, the Clemson football program had won 10 or more games in a single season seven times, but none from 1990-2010.
However, under Dabo Swinney the Tigers have done it six straight years.
“We had some good teams when I was here and obviously we were a good program back then, but not to the level or the consistency Dabo has built,” Ford said in an interview with the media prior to the 2014 Orange Bowl.
Of course Ford’s 1981 team won the last national championship at Clemson prior to the 2016 team. The 1981 team went 12-0, the first of four 10-win teams under Ford. From 1987-’89, Ford’s last three teams all won 10 games, the best stretch in Tigers’ history until the current one the program is on now.
Only Clemson and Alabama have won at least 10 games in each of the last six seasons. The six-year run includes 70 victories, three ACC Championships and six bowl wins. Swinney has been the head coach for eight full seasons, and Clemson has finished in the top 25 in seven of those years.
The Tigers have been to four BCS or New Year’s Six bowl games in the last six years, third-most in the nation, and has been in the College Football Playoff top four each of the last 12 rankings. Clemson has been ranked in the Associated Press top 25 in 91 of the last 98 polls.
This past January, the Tigers finally reached the summit for the first time in 35 years thanks to a 35-31 victory over Alabama in the 2017 National Championship Game.
So how long can Clemson keep it up? It looks like it can go for a while.
Clemson’s recruiting classes have never been better, as Swinney and his staff have consistently hauled in top 15 classes in each of the last seven years and the 2018 Class is looking like it could be a record-breaking one.
The football program moved into the $55 million Allen Reeves Football Complex back in February, a facility built to carry the Clemson football program into the future for years and decades to come.
Swinney and athletic director Dan Radakovich are working on a new contract that could keep the Clemson coach in Tigertown for years to come, while making him one of the highest paid coaches in the country at the same time.
To answer my own question, it does not appear as if Clemson is going anywhere for a while.