Colin Cowherd has a right to his own opinion, and I respect it for what it is – his opinion. And though I agree that programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Southern Cal are among the greatest of all-time in the history of college football, it is the reason he gave that I don’t agree with.
When talking about the four or five greatest college football programs of all-time, I don’t believe there is a Clemson fan out there who thinks the Tigers deserve to be on that list. Top 15 or top 20? Absolutely, Clemson falls in that category.
However, where Cowherd clearly messes up with his opinion is when he explains why Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Southern Cal are in his “Tier One” of the four best programs in America.
Cowherd says those programs are different because when they have their best coaches of all-time coach against a team from Tier Two’s best of all-time, the Tier One team is going to beat them for the national championship.
He uses examples such as Nick Saban and Bear Bryant at Alabama, Urban Meyer and Wood Hayes at Ohio State, Pete Carroll and John McKay at Southern Cal and Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.
Cowherd has 12 teams he believes deserve to be in “Tier Two.” He says these teams are capable of winning national championships. He lists Clemson, Florida State and Miami from the ACC. Auburn, Florida, Georgia and LSU from the SEC. Michigan and Penn State from the Big Ten. Texas from the Big 12, Oregon from the Pac-12 and Notre Dame.
Cowherd took it a step further with Clemson. He said the Tigers are benefitting in the ACC right now because Florida State and Miami are struggling and are down. He said Dabo Swinney’s Tigers would not have a chance in the conference against Bobby Bowden’s FSU teams of the 1990s or when Miami had Jimmy Johnson running the show in South Beach.
First of all, would the ACC be better if Florida State and Miami were playing well? Sure, but the Big Ten would be better if Michigan was Michigan or Nebraska was Nebraska. They are not, though. It is what it is.
Secondly, was Florida State’s dominance of the ACC in the 1990s not a result of Clemson being down at the time? There is no doubt FSU benefited from Clemson being down in those days.
When FSU came in the league, Clemson was just two years removed from the Danny Ford era, an era in which Clemson was one of the top 5 college football programs of the 1980s. After Ford’s departure following the 1989 season, the program declined and was never the same until Swinney brought it back up and in Ford’s words “took it to another level.”
So, to say Clemson could not contend with the Seminoles if Bobby Bowden was there, is just wrong. Clemson owned the ACC before Florida State did and now Clemson has taken it back.
Finally, he says Alabama’s, Ohio State’s, Oklahoma’s and Southern Cal’s best coaches would all beat the best coaches from Tier Two if they played for a national championship.
I know Cowherd calls Clemson’s success in the last five years “recency bias,” but facts are facts. Dabo Swinney is Clemson’s greatest coach of all-time. Swinney has already defeated Alabama’s Nick Saban twice in national championship games. That is Clemson’s greatest coach of all-time against one of Alabama’s greatest of all-time.
By the way, Cowherd forgot, Clemson beat Alabama by 28 points the last time they met, which was just two years ago. Talk about a short memory.
Also, Swinney defeated Urban Meyer, who Cowherd says is one of Ohio State’s greatest coaches of all-time with a berth in the national championship game on the line. By the way, Clemson won 31-0, Ohio State’s worst bowl defeat ever and the only time in his entire coaching career a Meyer-coached team was shutout.
By the way, Swinney also beat Bob Stoops and Oklahoma in the national semifinals by 20 points. So in head-to-head matchups, Swinney, Clemson’s greatest coach of all-time, is 4-2 against three of the greatest coaches from Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma in national championship caliber games. That isn’t recency bias, that is just a fact.
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