After Clemson beat Alabama, 44-16, in last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game, some in the media wondered if the Tigers passed the Crimson Tide as the premier program in college football.
In the last four years, Clemson is 2-2 in head-to-head matchups against the Tide, including a 2-1 mark in three national championship games. Both teams posted a 55-4 record during the four-year stretch, including two national championships.
The Tigers’ 28-point victory at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Jan. 7, was the largest defeat by an Alabama team in the Nick Saban era. Clemson also became the first team since 1897 to post a perfect 15-0 season.
So, has Clemson passed Alabama?
“Alabama is not going anywhere,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said to The Clemson Insider recently. “They are an unbelievable champion. They are a model of consistency. Our game against them last year does not change that.”
Clemson may not have passed Alabama, yet, but are the Tigers getting the respect they deserve from the Crimson Tide? A few weeks back, Saban really did not give the Tigers as much credit for the win as he did for his team having “a tough road to hoe to get to the championship game.”
“I’m not worried about that. That was last year. It is what it is. We won the game,” Swinney said when asked about the comment. “Whether you win by one point or whatever the score was. We won and you move on.
“It’s like in ’15. There was a lot of comments about that game, but they won the game. At the end of the day you move on. You get better and you learn from it.”
What Swinney has learned through everything is that his team is always trying to be the best version of themselves. All of that other stuff just does not matter.
“We are not trying to catch Alabama or pass Alabama or anything,” Swinney said. “We are just trying to be the best Clemson we can be year in and year out, regardless of what anybody else is doing out there. That is really my focus day in and day out, year in and year out.”