From ‘Nobody believes in us’ to ‘Nobody wants us here’
Clemson has been rising up through the college football ranks in the past couple of years. If there’s a word that we could label this Tigers team it would be ‘consistency’. From the arrival in 2008 of Coach Swinney, also affectionally known as Dabo, all the way to 2015 where Clemson saw their first playoff appearance, they have been led by a gutsy underdog coach against some of the other giants like Oklahoma and Alabama to gain national recognition.
Clemson fell short in their first national game against Alabama, but nobody expected them to be there in the first place. After that they became America’s darling team at the time and through the following season. Finally, the Tigers rose up to their first championship, representing all the underdogs. But Dabo didn’t want them to be just a good story to tell, he wanted to create a consistent winner.
Fast forward to the present as they wait for another championship match, this time against a new darling, LSU. Clemson has tied the ACC record for most consecutive victories, matching Florida State from 2012-2014 with 29 straight wins. Not only that, the Tigers have the best overall record (69-4) in college football since 2015. Even with all those impressive stats, the general perception has switched for the defending champions. From nobody believing they could win it all to hoping they’ll lose. Despite having the longest winning streak and winning it all last year, they were still ranked 3rd behind LSU (1st) and Ohio State (2nd). For Clemson this just adds fuel to prove they belong at the top and they’re out to prove it.
“Obviously, if we lose this game, they are going to kick us out. They don’t want us there anyway. We’d drop to 20. Georgia loses to this very same team, and it’s, ‘How do we keep Georgia in?’ We win, against the team that beat [Georgia], and it’s, ‘How do we get Clemson out?’ We’ve got to go 30-0. We ain’t got no choice because we don’t play nobody.” Coach Swinney told reporters in late November after a victory over South Carolina on not even been considered for the No.1 seed. With that chip on their shoulder they beat number two ranked and favorite Ohio State to classify for the upcoming championship game.
Clemson finished this season 13-0 to make its fifth consecutive playoff appearance and has earned 2 titles in the last 3 years. Consistency and winning bring praise from some, but also criticism from many. Regardless of the upcoming championship game result against LSU, Clemson will continue to build a winning culture under Dabo’s influence. So, don’t expect the Tigers to go anywhere any time soon. Just sit back and enjoy the hard labor of a man who came to a small program and made it produce excellence from the ground up. Because excellence and consistency should not be overlooked, neither should the Clemson Tigers.
With all that said “BEAT LSU!”