I loved Clemson growing up.
I lived it. I breathed it. I was all about it.
I loved everything about Clemson. My stepfather, a 1949 graduate of old Clemson College, passed down his passion for this great university when I was just a little boy and he taught me everything I needed to know about it. Once you are bitten by the Clemson bug, there is really no cure. It stays with you the rest of your life.
There is just something about this little ole place that no one can truly explain, but once you experience it, you understand how special it is.
Clemson is not just a university, but it is a town. It’s a small town. It is a community. The city has just barely under 14,000 residence. That is it.
The undergrad enrollment at Clemson is just under 18,000. That is it.
A town as small as Clemson and a school as small as Clemson isn’t supposed to beat the big boys. It isn’t supposed to win championships. It is supposed to be the best college football program in the country.
One of the things I loved about Clemson growing up was how no one really ever gave Clemson a chance. I grew up in the late 1970s and ‘80s. Until Dabo Swinney came around, it was the best era in Clemson football history.
I witnessed some great wins in Clemson football history. However, I also witnessed how no one, I mean no one, gave Clemson a shot against the big boys. And when little ole Clemson beat Ohio State in the 1978 Gator Bowl, it was special. When little ole Clemson took down Nebraska in the 1982 Orange Bowl to win its first national championship, it was special. When little ole Clemson beat up Penn State in the 1988 Citrus Bowl, it was special. And when little ole Clemson became the first ACC team to beat Oklahoma in the 1989 Citrus Bowl, it was special.
All of those wins, all of the ACC Championships and the 1981 National Championship were special because little ole Clemson, a small town with a small university was beating the big boys of college football when no one ever gave them a chance to do so.
Now here we are 30 years later, and Little Ole Clemson is doing it again, except this time they are doing it better than ever.
Dabo Swinney has led Clemson to heights it has never seen on the gridiron. Under his leadership, little ole Clemson has done something no other school in the modern era has ever done.
“I read them a quote because I said why not little ole Clemson,” he said during Clemson’s Championship Celebration this past Saturday at Death Valley. “Somebody is going to be 15-0 one day. It is going to happen. Why not Clemson? Why not?
“So, I challenged these guys with this quote. It says, ‘What you can vividly imagine and ardently believe and enthusiastically act upon will in avidly come to be.’ We talked about that. Here is what that means. It means that you have to dream big. It means you have to believe big. And then it means you have to enthusiastically take action. That word enthusiasm means God within. That is what it means. Enthusiastically take action because the difference between a dream and reality is action. You have to put the work in. You have to put the work in, and you have to be about it. This team set out to be about it from day one and (last) Monday night you saw a team enthusiastically act upon their dream and belief.”
Clemson acted upon their dream by not just becoming the first 15-0 team, but by dominating just about everyone in its way. The Tigers beat their 15 opponents by an average margin of 31.1 points per game.
In the last 10 games, they won by an average margin of 36.1 points, including a 60-point win over Wake Forest and a 61-point win over Louisville – the third and second largest margin of victories in ACC history. Then they went to Tallahassee and handed Florida State is worst home loss ever, a 49-point win.
The closest anyone came to beating them in the last 10 games was at Boston College, a 20-point victory for the Tigers.
In the College Football Playoff, when the best plays the best, Clemson beat Notre Dame by 27 points and it really wasn’t even that close. Then against Alabama in the national championship game, with the greatest offense a Nick Saban coached team has ever had, Clemson beat the previously undefeated Tide, 44-16, to complete the dream.
It was little ole Clemson that handed Saban his worst defeat at Alabama. It was little ole Clemson that became the first 15-0 team in major college football. It is little ole Clemson that is the home of the best college football team of all time.
“The 2018 team is the best ever. Drop the mic. The best ever,” Swinney said.