ARLINGTON, Texas—Second-ranked Clemson is in Dallas for its fourth consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff. Saturday it faces No. 3 Notre Dame in a showdown of undefeated teams in the Cotton Bowl.
Eleven seasons ago, the Tigers were preparing for a Gator Bowl matchup with Nebraska, head coach Dabo Swinney’s first game without the interim tag. They fell 26-21 to finish the season with a 9-4 record.
A lot has happened since that game and Clemson is experiencing unprecedented success as a program, that fans would not have believed after the loss to the Cornhuskers.
Tom Rinaldi interviewed Swinney for a SportsCenter Special on Monday and asked about the early days of the program and how the Tigers got to where they are.
Swinney carries two signs into every meeting at Clemson one reading “believe” and the other “it can’t be done” (with the ‘t’ crossed out).
“That’s been since I got the job at every meeting,” Swinney said. “When I first got the job, I thought in the very beginning that’s what needed to change at Clemson, I needed to create an attitude of belief.”
Belief is at the core of who Swinney is and he attributes the Tigers’ success to those early days of mind change. He knows that belief can change the course, not just of a season, but of your life.
“Those are my core values,” Swinney said. “If your beliefs aren’t good, your thoughts aren’t good, then your words and actions stink, your values ain’t good, and your destiny doesn’t end up where it could.”
Clemson has a chance to further its destiny on Saturday when it squares up with the Irish for a chance at another national championship appearance. The game kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.