On Monday, January 9th 2017, my alma mater, the Clemson University Tigers won the National Championship in NCAA football. We defeated the titanic, fearsome Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m still not sure I believe it.
My entire life, Clemson has been good, but not great in most sports, including football. Growing up 40 minutes from campus as a legacy Tiger, and going to games every season, I became quite used to us having an occasional great spotlight game, but also then losing a couple games to far lesser teams. And that’s just the way it had always been, both before and after my 4 years on campus. Even in Dabo Swinney’s first few years, he maintained this Clemson reputation. But through investing in both great equipment and facilities for the athletes as well as seeking out the very best assistant coaches and compensating them accordingly, Dabo, through his executive leadership, has brought Clemson back as one of the elite college football programs in the country.
This season will remain special in Clemson history for so many reasons. Notable achievements of the 2016-2017 season include:
- A thrilling shoot out victory against blazing hot Louisville with their Heisman winning quarterback.
- A 56-7 rout of the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Tigers’ largest margin of victory in the series since a 51-0 win … in 1900.
- A shut out of The Ohio State University. 31-0. This was Urban Meyer’s worst loss ever as a head coach.
- And finally, we made Alabama’s “best ever” defense look very average. Clemson scored 35 points against them, and with 2 minutes left in the game, Deshaun Watson and our Tiger offense drove the entire length of the field to score a game winning touchdown with 6 seconds remaining.
Most impressive to me, I think, is this stat… In the previous 7 years, 4 teams have won national titles: Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, and Auburn. This season, Clemson defeated all four of them.
There are far too many more remarkable statistics and anecdotes of the 2016-2017 football season for me to remember them all and share them here. But to be clear, Clemson did not look like a champion in a number of games this season. Lets not forget about our loss to Pitt, NC State’s missed game-winning field goal, and our hugely unimpressive win against Troy. If Clemson is one thing it is unpredictable, but at least we were able to be prepared when it mattered most this year.
With all of our big name play makers this year leaving for the NFL, next year will almost certainly be a “rebuilding year”. But that’s alright. Because we won this one. That’s now one more than I ever dreamed I’d see us win. I, and I bet may other fans, have been satiated for the time being. Lets just love this one. For the rest of 2017, our Clemson Tigers are the Champs.