For the most part, Alabama has ruled college football for more than a decade. The Crimson Tide has won five national championships and played in seven title games overall since Nick Saban came to Tuscaloosa back in 2007.
No team has won more games and dominated more opponents than Alabama. However, since the Tide’s dynasty took off in 2009—the year they won their first national title under Saban—no one has been more of a pain in Alabama’s side than Clemson.
Since 2011, Alabama and Clemson are the only two teams in the FBS to win 10 or more games every year. The Crimson Tide has a 103-10 combined record in the last eight seasons, while the Tigers are 97-15 during that same stretch.
Alabama has won three national championships, while Clemson has won two during that same time period. Head-to-head matchups are even at 2-2. However, the Tigers have won two of the three meetings in the national championship game, including last January’s 44-16 victory at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Though some people around the country were initially surprised to see what Dabo Swinney has done at Clemson, Saban was not one of them.
“I tried to hire Dabo when I came to Alabama,” Saban said on ESPNU Radio’s Playbook Show. “He is an Alabama guy. He played for Alabama. He played for Coach (Gene) Stallings. He is from Birmingham.
“You know, Dabo is a good friend. We have a place in (Florida) on the same island, same place and we end up there sometimes together and spend some time together.”
Under Swinney’s direction, Clemson has posted a 116-30 record in his 10-plus seasons at the school. The Tigers have won two national championships, played for a third, made the College Football Playoff four straight years and has won five ACC Championships, including each of the last four.
Besides beating the Tide two times, Clemson has also beaten traditional powers such as Ohio State and Oklahoma twice, Notre Dame, LSU, Auburn four times and Georgia.
“There is no question he has done as good of a job as anybody in the country of building a program, creating and sustaining stability there with this coaching staff,” Saban said. “They do a great job of recruiting. They have really good players and do a really good job of developing players. They have great passion and enthusiasm with their fans. So, he has done a fantastic job. No question about it and I think their record speaks to that.”
However, Saban’s comments come after a month in which Clemson’s program has been hounded and attacked by some in the media who cover the SEC, making excuses for Alabama’s 28-point loss to the Tigers. Saban has even gotten into the act at times and linebacker Dylan Moses, at SEC Media Days earlier this week. would not concede the fact Clemson was the better team in last year’s title game.
Clemson’s vs. traditional FBS Powers under Swinney
Ohio State 2-0
Notre Dame 2-0