Here is an example what success does for a program and a fan base.
Ten years ago, there were plenty of Clemson fans and members of the media who were questioning Terry Don Phillips’ hiring of Dabo Swinney to run the football program. The Tigers were coming off a 6-7 record in 2010, the program’s first losing season since 1998.
They closed the 2010 campaign by losing to South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, a loss many have said is the most embarrassing in Clemson Football history.
But look at the Clemson Football Program now.
Ten years later, Clemson is considered one of the elite programs in the game. Since the start of the 2011 football season, the Tigers are 121-19, have won two national championships, played for it four times, and have won seven ACC Championships.
The Tigers come into the 2021 season considered by many to contend for another national championship.
Clemson finished last season 10-2 and ranked No. 3 in the final Associated Press College Football Poll. The Tigers won a sixth consecutive ACC Championship along the way and advanced the CFP for a record sixth straight year. The 10 wins marked the 10th consecutive season the program won 10 or more games in a year – one of only three programs in the history of college football to do so.
“I am incredibly proud of our 2020 team,” Swinney said this past spring. “And everybody’s contributions that we had from the players’ leadership, our staff, our administration, medical people. It was a challenge like we have never had. It is something that I will forever be grateful for and all that went into it.
“I am just super proud of that team.”
Swinney said the Tigers hit every goal last year, but one, which was win the last game.
“We finished number three in the country and had ten wins,” he said. “There were three teams in the Power 65 that won ten games and that was us, Alabama and Notre Dame. So, we are just really proud of our guys and all that went into it. It was an incredible accomplishment … it is any year to win ten games, but to be able to do it under the circumstances we had to manage last year, it is just a credit to everyone involved.”
And though the Tigers made the CFP for a sixth straight year and accomplished a lot of things as a program, they still wanted to win the national championship.
“As we look back on it, I wish we would have won the whole daggum thing. But I know this, we are off to a lot better start this decade than we were back in 2010. That is for sure,” Swinney said. “But it is never about the destination. It never is, even when you get to the place you are trying to get to, it is not about that. It is always about the journey. That is what you always remember.
“I can just say that it has been an amazing journey to this point in my time here at Clemson. Every year is a new journey. It is a blessing to be a part of it. I know we will have a lot of great moments ahead. That’s for sure.”
Clemson will kick off the 2021 season on Sept. 4 against Georgia at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
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