Good for football and good for the ACC.
Clemson’s incredible comeback win over Alabama for the national title thrilled every college football fan in the country that wasn’t rooting for the Crimson Tide to keep dominating. It’s similar for any dynasty program or franchise that gets upset. But Clemson’s victory is not only good for the sport; it is GREAT for the ACC.
You can crow all you want about how much ACC football has improved, but the fact that the league has now won two of the last four national championships – by different schools – proves without a doubt the conference can hold its own with any other league. Say what you will about the SEC, the most valuable college football commodity with five different schools having won the national championship since it’s been determined on the field, the ACC now has two in Clemson and Florida State.
And that serves notice to the rest of the conference that if Clemson can do it, other programs can, too. The Tigers lost one game this season, to Pitt, but nearly lost to N.C. State and Louisville. So while the dramatic 21 points in the fourth quarter made this one of the top five championship games of all time, there is not much difference between Clemson and several other ACC programs.
It takes building a foundation, stacking recruiting class upon recruiting class; then it takes winning all the games you are supposed to win plus pulling upsets. Dabo Swinney was an unknown receivers’ coach who had never been a coordinator when Clemson made him interim head coach and then gambled by giving him the job for good. He is no better coach than others in the SEC and some in the ACC, so the model he built can be duplicated and one that will be supported by a large fan base when its teams start winning big.
Sure, Clemson and Florida State are known as football schools in a basketball conference and may have a better chance recruiting enough great players. But the fact that Carolina beat FSU and Pitt beat Clemson this season is proof that the Tigers slaying the dragon was not only good for football, it was great for ACC football.