Clemson Football: The New Era

Since the cornerstone of collegiate sports is the balance of athletics and academics, today we are going to have a vocabulary lesson. 

According to the always “reputable” source of Urban Dictionary, “Clemsoning” refers to the act of delivering an inexplicably disappointing performance, usually within the context of a college football season. In other words, the term is used to explain why bad things happen to good Clemson teams.

It’s time to lay that term to rest because the Tigers continue to show up on the big stage. It’s pretty safe to say that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney agrees with that notion.

“I think it’s an agenda. It’s just bias,” Coach Swinney said during his Tuesday press conference. “It’s people that are uneducated. Ignorant. They don’t do their homework.”

Well folks, school is in session and here’s the first lesson: Since 2011, 50 different schools that were ranked have lost to an unranked team 112 times. 2011 is also the last time that Clemson lost to an unranked opponent, when the Tigers fell to NC State and Georgia Tech.

“There is not a single guy in this entire roster who has ever lost a game that wasn’t a ranked program,” Swinney said on Tuesday morning. “Our guys show up and compete their butts off. For people to not realize that, they are just ignorant and lazy because they are not looking at the facts.”

Let’s look at the facts then.

The Georgia Tech victory last Saturday was Clemson’s 33rd straight win over an unranked opponent, which is the second highest streak in the nation. It was also Clemson’s 13th straight victory at home, tying a school record set from 2011 to 2013.

Consecutive Wins over Unranked Opponents (either poll)
1. Alabama, 57, (2007 vs. UL-Monroe, 21-14)
2. Clemson, 33, (2011 at NC State, 37-13)
3. Florida State, 29, (2012 at NC State, 17-16)
4. Texas A&M, 26 (2011 vs. Texas, 27-25)
5. Michigan State, 25, (2012 vs. Northwestern, 23-20)

This game was the exact opposite of a letdown as the Tigers completely shut down the Yellow Jackets. Clemson’s defense held Georgia Tech to just 1.7 yards per rush and only 71 total yards on the ground. The Tigers stuffed the Yellow Jackets for a loss or no gain on 40.5 percent of its rushing attempts, the worst rate ever under Coach Paul Johnson.

Clemson allowed the least amount of total yards in the nation last season and rank fifth in that category this year. The job that defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, has done for this program is note worthy.

Football Power Index

The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward. Since the start of 2011, Clemson has beaten a team ranked higher in the AP Poll eight times. In that same time period, the Tigers are 40-5 (.889) when they are the FPI favorites.

The Tigers have not lost a game in which they had at least a 60 percent likelihood of winning in over three years. They’re 31-0 in such situations. Let those numbers speak for themselves. 

That Boy 

Coach Swinney's nickname "Dabo" was given to him as an infant by his parents when his then 18-month-old brother would try to enunciate "that boy" when referring to Swinney. Now at age 45, Dabo Swinney is one of the winningest active coaches among a bevy of more "senior" mentors. 

Dabo Swinney’s .717 winning percentage is the 11th best in the nation among active coaches in the FBS. Interestingly enough, Swinney has beaten eight of the other 12 coaches on that list. 

Coach Swinney and the Tigers have beaten Jimbo Fisher of FSU (2011), Les Miles of LSU (2012), Urban Meyer of Ohio State (2013), Mark Richt of Georgia (2013), Bob Stoops of Oklahoma (2014), Steve Spurrier of South Carolina (2014), Bobby Petrino of Louisville (2014 & 2015), and most recently Brian Kelly of Notre Dame (2015).

Based on all of this information, it's pretty clear to see that Dabo Swinney and his staff have ushered in a new era of football in Death Valley, South Carolina. If the Tigers continue to win, especially on November 7th at home against Florida State, then the term "Clemsoning" will officially be retired. A new era has begun.