Since 2015, Clemson has posted a 54-4 record, and will play in its third national championship game when its plays No. 1 Alabama next Monday in Santa Clara, Calif.
In all three instances, the second-ranked Tigers have played Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. And as dominant as Clemson has been in the last four seasons, the Crimson Tide is the only team in the country to have a better overall record than Clemson.
Alabama is 55-3 since 2015.
But as Clemson (14-0) gets set to play the Crimson Tide next week, the Tigers are not looking at Alabama any different than it always has. It’s not about what Alabama does or has done, Clemson continues to worry about Clemson and living up to its standard.
“I think when you start comparing yourself to other groups, then you miss out,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Monday during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game teleconference. “We study everybody in the country, but more importantly, we’ve got our own standard here, and we want to be the best version of ourselves year in and year out.
“So that’s what we focus on. Our focus is on what we did well, what we did bad, how do we continue to improve. But we don’t try to be anything other than the best version of us.”
It’s that focus that allowed Clemson to beat Alabama two years ago in the national championship game. While other programs around the country try to be like Alabama, the Tigers just keep their nose to the ground and work on being the best version that they can be.
“I think if we try to be something that we’re not or try to do things that aren’t within our culture or structure or our beliefs, then you can get off track,” Swinney said. “But we pay attention to everyone out there, not just Alabama, but everybody, whether it be schematics or anything that’s new or cutting edge, whatever. We’re always trying to get better. But at the end of the day, we just try to be the best version of us, and we’re not trying to live up to anybody else’s standard.
“We’ve got our own standard here. That’s all we try to do year in and year out is stay true to our core values and the things that we believe in, and then we start over every year. But we learn and grow from each season. We learn from other people. But we don’t sit around and try to compare ourselves or anything like that.”