It has not happened at Clemson very much in the last six seasons, or for the last decade for that matter. Losing is never easy to accept, especially for a program that is 79-7 since the start of the 2015 season.
Dabo Swinney did his best to shine some light on Friday’s 49-28 loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes dominated the Tigers on both sides of the line of scrimmage and just physically dominated the game in every way.
“On a positive note, I will say this, we win and lose as a team around here and we’ll grow from it. It’s a hurting locker room in there. It’s a hurting locker room,” Swinney said. “We haven’t lost many games around here in a long time, and this one hurt. And this was an opportunity to go play for a national championship, and we didn’t get it done.”
But never a glass half empty kind of guy, the Clemson head coach did his best to build his team back up and get them to focus on what they accomplished in a college football season few people thought would even take place back in the spring.
“I tell you what, it’s a special group of people in that room,” Swinney said. “Nothing about that scoreboard changes how I feel about this team and about the people involved in this team, our staff, our players. Their leadership, their commitment, their sacrifice this year has been incredible.
“We are 10‑2. A lot of people didn’t think we would even play. And we’ve been through a lot. We’re 10‑2 and ten 10‑plus win seasons in a row, been to six of these playoffs in a row. And this one didn’t go our way. But you have got to have a chance to get here. And these guys fought their tails off.”
Clemson also won a record sixth consecutive outright ACC Championship this year and earned a record sixth consecutive trip to the College Football Playoff. Other than winning 51 games, the seniors went 27-0 at home, the first Clemson class to do that in the history of Memorial Stadium.
Of the field, even with all that is going on with the pandemic, 74 players earned a 3.0 GPA or better this past semester, while the program also produced its most graduates.
“This is a team full of great young people, great character, great heart. And nothing about the scoreboard changes that,” Swinney said. “We’re all disappointed. Really hurt for our fans. Again, this is not what we envisioned. But all you can do is give Ohio State credit because they just flat‑out played a great football game.”