It is crazy to imagine, but in each of the last six years, Clemson has equaled or exceeded its preseason rankings, including last year’s No. 2 preseason ranking. Of course the Tigers topped their No. 2 ranking in the Amway Coaches’ Preseason Poll by finishing as national champions in 2016.
Clemson has exceeded its preseason ranking each of the last six years in the coaches poll and has exceeded its preseason ranking in the Associated Poll five of the last six times. Clemson was picked eighth in the AP preseason poll in 2013 and finished No. 8.
But like Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney likes to say, that was last year, and though those streaks are nice, they have nothing to do with what the Tigers will try to accomplish in 2017.
“We are a new team. We are on a new journey,” he said. “Our guys have a good mindset. For us, it is always about what’s next. That’s just how we approach it. We start over. Those plays that won last year, we have to go make them again to have a chance.”
Swinney is the first coach in history of college football with a six-year streak such as this. Former Ohio State coach John Cooper and current Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder both had five-year streaks.
No one knows where Swinney and the Tigers will be ranked to start the 2017 season, but odds are the defending national champions will start in the top 10. Now the question is can they make it happen seven years in a row?
Swinney believes they will have an opportunity.
“We definitely have the ingredients to be a team that has a chance,” he said. “That is really where we want to be every year. You are never going to hear me come out and say ‘we are going to win it all.’ I just want to be one of those teams that will have a chance. That is all you can ask for.
“There is a lot that goes into all the rest of it. I want to see a team whose goal is to never go win the national championship … ya’ll know our goals. That is just a byproduct of our goals and the commitment. I think we have a team that can compete and has a legitimate chance to accomplish the five goals that we have as a team. If we will be committed to being the best team we can be day in and day out, we will see a good team emerge.”