Monday Morning Quarterback
Not so soft, are they?
For weeks heading up to the Fiesta Bowl, all we heard was how Clemson had not played anyone. We heard it from the national media and the Ohio State media, all the way up to kickoff. They all questioned the Tigers’ toughness, which was a mistake and was downright silly, in my opinion.
For some reason, people wondered how Clemson might respond when it was punched in the mouth. “Have they played a strong enough schedule to handle the great Ohio State?” The Tigers handled it quite well, thank you very much.
After falling behind 16-0 in the first 27 minutes of the Fiesta Bowl Saturday, Clemson owned the last 33 minutes, outscoring the Buckeyes 29-7 for one of the best comebacks in school history. The 29-23 victory is the largest come-from-behind victory in the Tigers’ rich bowl history.
Not bad for a team who had not played anyone.
I know some in the media laugh at Dabo Swinney when he plays the disrespect card, but there is something to it. I actually witnessed how some in my line of work think of the Tigers, even though they are returning to the national championship game for the fourth time in five years and will have a chance to be just the third team in major college football to win three of the last four national championships in the AP Poll era, which began in 1936.
When talking to Jeff Scott after the game a young reporter asked the Tigers’ co-offensive coordinator if a win like this meant that Clemson had arrived in college football?
I was kind of stunned when they asked it. I guess they forgot the two national championships in the last three seasons the Tigers have won, or the whole decade for that matter.
Scott was a little surprised by the question, too, but he handled it well.
It’s like people have amnesia. They forget all the tough games in the past they have been in. They forget this program beat Alabama after trailing 14-0 in the 2016 National Championship Game. They forget how the Tigers drilled Alabama in last year’s national championship game.
They have forgotten it all, or so it seems.
“It is just the DNA. It is our program. It’s not just this season. That’s just how we are built,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “That’s the mindset and the DNA of our program. So that’s everything – your off-season, spring practice and how you meet. That’s your camp. It is how you practice every week, all of that stuff. It is your staff, the leadership and the development of leadership on your team. It is culture. That’s what it is. It was awesome to see.”
Now let’s see if they will remember any of it on Jan. 13 when the Tigers play LSU in the national championship game.
My guess is, they will not.