Following an impressive run of six consecutive College Football Playoff appearances from 2015-20, Clemson has missed the playoff two seasons in a row.
Despite that, head coach Dabo Swinney is confident the Tigers will be in contention for a return to the playoff in 2023. And while some people who aren’t a part of his program have questioned it from the outside looking in, Swinney feels it’s “never been better.”
“People, they need stories and it’s a story if Clemson went to six playoffs in a row and then didn’t make it. What’s wrong with them,” Swinney said in an interview with ESPN’s Andrea Adelson on Monday. “There’s nothing wrong with Clemson. There’s nothing wrong with our program. In fact, I would argue, honestly, our program has never been better.”
Swinney explained to Adelson why he believes that to be the case, saying, “Our people, the kids on this roster, the talent, our coaches, our support staff, our administration, our infrastructure, our connectivity. I’m better now than I’ve ever been as a head coach. It’s not even close, where I am now to where I was in ’13, when we won our first BCS game. Never been better.”
Clemson’s loss to Tennessee in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 capped the Tigers’ second straight three-loss season. However, it was also Clemson’s 12th straight season with at least 10 wins, and the Tigers won their seventh ACC Championship in the last eight seasons.
Clemson won national titles in 2016 and 2018 as part of six consecutive CFP appearances, and while the Tigers haven’t been in the four-team playoff field the last two seasons, Swinney believes his team will be back in the playoff hunt this season.
“This is a team that will have a chance, and that’s all you can ask for,” said Swinney, who is entering his 15th full season as Clemson’s head coach. “If you’ve got a chance and you have the right work ethic and the right spirit to you, then you can live with the result that comes with it. I don’t judge our teams by championships. I’ve never done that. That’s a miserable way to go about your life. “For me, it’s more about who are they? What’s the commitment? What’s the chemistry? What’s our leadership. I loved last year’s team. We won the league. We got better, but we didn’t quite get where we wanted to go. We’ve worked hard, and I do think this team this year will have shot.”
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