Clemson winning an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship seems almost routine now, right?
When you’re the preseason favorite and you watch the way the Tigers devour their opponents year in and year out it’s downright expected.
It is not the norm though ladies and gentlemen.
We are witnessing the greatest era in Clemson football history. There have been champions crowned in the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1953, that’s 66 years of football and not one time has there ever been a team to win the conference four times in a row outright until now.
When Coach (Dabo) Swinney sat in my living room telling me that if I came to Clemson, we could do something special. I believed him. However, I would be telling stories if I said I knew it would be to this magnitude.
Dabo Swinney made it his mission to turn Clemson into a “consistent winner” and he’s been able to do that to the highest degree. It is not easy to sustain the success and reach the level that Clemson has in what seems like is still the beginning of Clemson’s quest for the best.
Football programs fortunes can change from one year to the next, there have been really good runs by teams not considered “elite” in the modern era, i.e. Oregon, Stanford, South Carolina, Utah and Colorado.
But Elite teams aren’t broken down into categories, there’s no criteria for it even. You just know it when you see it and you have to call it for what it is. Winning football games is tough to do, and winning championships is even tougher.
In 2011 the team I led took home the first conference championship Clemson had seen in two decades. Twenty years!
Winning ball games is the goal, but the way that this Clemson football team wins is impressive. Not only are the plowing through the league and crushing most teams’ spirits before the start of the third quarter, they’re having fun doing it.
The culture has consumed not only the coaches and players, but the alumni and fan base as well. That is why Clemson will continue to do this longer than people think.
The key to it all is believing. I’ll give you a prime example of how this works. Santa Claus’ and his reindeer can’t deliver the presents in time if there’s a lack of Christmas spirit, right? Well, as we all know there is no lack of the Clemson spirit. You can find it in most households, conversations and convenience stores in the Upstate. It is decaled on the back of many vehicles in the state of South Carolina.
This is one of my favorite times of year and if you’ve been keeping up with Clemson Football, you realize it’s almost symbolic.
Some years ago, Clemson and Swinney were criticized and laughed at for being exactly who they’ve always been. They don’t laugh at how different Clemson and the head man are anymore.
Ironically enough, as the holiday season approaches, we get reminded that it was Rudolph’s red nose that led the charge and saved Christmas when it was all said and done. Clemson carries this conference on its back and into the College Football Playoff. The ACC truly means “Another Clemson Championship.”