A few years back, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told a few of his local writers that he had a dream that he won the national championship by winning it in the final seconds. In the dream, as Swinney recalled, his team beat Alabama on that last play.
As we all know by now, that’s exactly what happened when Hunter Renfrow caught the winning touchdown with one second left to beat the Crimson Tide in last year’s National Championship Game.
Swinney has done it again.
Thanks to Sunday’s announcement, top-ranked Clemson will play No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff. It will be Clemson’s first trip to the Sugar Bowl since 1959.
Swinney told a story during the Sugar Bowl’s teleconference about a trip he took to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans this past spring with Deshaun Watson for the Manning Award, and how he turned that into a “reconnaissance trip” for his team.
“I didn’t even realize it until literally flying that way that it was the first time in 25 years since I had been to New Orleans,” Swinney said. “Then we landed and I was messing with Deshaun, like hey man, that’s where it went down right there. That’s where we beat the ‘Canes for the natty. And the driver says well that’s where the event is, so I thought that was pretty cool.”
The event was actually on the floor of the Superdome, which means Swinney was right on the field where he and his teammates at Alabama celebrated their 1992 national championship.
“Not only was that the event, we pulled right out onto the field. The turf was up, but we pulled right out onto the field,” Swinney said. “So literally, 25 years earlier, I was in that stadium and had just won a national championship, and now there we were and we had just won a national championship. It was kind of a surreal moment.”
This was when Swinney realized the Sugar Bowl was one this year’s national semifinal games so he told the team about it and told them how special it would be for them to experience the Sugar Bowl as well.
“I took a couple pictures and kind of turned it into a reconnaissance trip,” Swinney said. “So I had a little fun when we were in spring practice. Kind of told the guys, hey, I checked it out and if we do what I think we can do, this is where we have a chance to get to. It’s pretty cool to see that come to fruition.”