Dabo Swinney

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Throwback Thursday: In 2012, Dabo Swinney said the ACC will produce a national champion

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In doing some quick searching through the archives for another story on the docket, I just so happened to stumble upon a fun little quote and headline form the past. Dabo Swinney, head coach of the Clemson Tigers, is widely regarded as one of the top college football coaches in the sport today, and some might even argue he is the best even ahead of Alabama’s Nick Saban. But it wasn’t really all that long ago Swinney was a coach who was charming but still clearly attempting to climb the ladder in the college football world. But lacking in confidence was never a part of Swinney’s personality, and the human quote machine turned up quite a prediction back in 2012 when the talk of various realignment discussions were at their best.

One rumor that never came to fruition was the idea of Florida State and Clemson leaving the ACC for the Big 12. Clearly, that never came to be, as both programs have remained in the ACC. But the topic was commented on by Swinney, in 2012 who made it clear the struggling ACC would regain its status as a power conference. Keep in mind at the time the ACC was similar in stature to its power-conference peers it is perceived to be today, without the benefit of having a national title contender in its lineup. Florida State was down (although some FSU fans would prefer 2012’s “down” to 2019’s “down”) and the conference was lacking in star power.

So when Swinney proclaimed the ACC will produce a national champion, you would be forgiven for not taking that comment too seriously.

At the time Swinney made his comments about the future of the ACC, the head coach of the Clemson Tigers was fresh off his best season at the helm of the program. Clemson completed a 10-4 record and won the ACC championship. Unfortunately, the season ended on the roughest of notes for Swinney and the Tigers when No. 14 Clemson was dominated in the Orange bowl by Big East champion West Virginia, 70-33. Little could anyone know at the time, Swinney was spot on with his future outlook for the conference and he had a major hand in making it a reality.

Two years after Swinney proclaimed a national champion would hail from the ACC, Florida State and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston climbed to the top of the college football world and won the final BCS National Championship. Fittingly enough, Florida State won its national championship game against Auburn, bringing the SEC’s BCS title run to an end after seven consecutive titles won by an SEC member. Florida State would follow up their national championship run by being selected for the inaugural College Football Playoff. After being taken out by Pac-12 champion Oregon in the Rose Bowl semifinal game, it was officially Clemson’s turn for national championship glory.

Clemson reached the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in the 2015 season, where they fell to Alabama, but the Tigers got revenge on the Crimson Tide the following season to claim the national championship for the 2016 season. Last season, in 2018, Swinney coached the Tigers to a second national championship in the College Football Playoff era.

A reminder Nick Saban is a perfect 17-0 against former assistants as No. 1 Alabama heads to No. 24 Texas A&M

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It’s that time of the year again when we are regularly reminded that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has never lost to an assistant coach during his coaching career. That perfect streak will once again be put on the line this weekend when the top-ranked Crimson Tide make their way to College Station, Texas to face the No. 24 Texas A&M Aggies. Texas A&M, of course, is coached by Jimbo Fisher. You guessed it. Fisher is a former assistant to Saban.

Fisher has gone 0-2 against his former boss, including last season’s loss in SEC play. Last season marked the first time Fisher faced Saban as a coach of an SEC West Division foe. His previous loss to Saban came while coaching at Florida State when the No. 3 Seminoles opened the 2017 season with a 24-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama in the season opener in Atlanta, Georgia. The most-hyped Week 1 game in quite some time ended up being far from able to match the preseason hype. Florida State hasn’t exactly been the same since and may still be trying to recover from that game.

The odds always seem to be in Saban’s favor, as he generally has the best team in every matchup against his former assistants, and that should once again be the case this weekend. Is Saban due for a loss against an assistant? Perhaps. It’s hard to win so many games before taking a mild hit somewhere along the way, even if by a fluke. Fisher may have Texas A&M working to be a viable threat to Alabama, and maybe playing at home helps, but the Aggies have already lost one game at home to Auburn so it doesn’t seem like this may be a difficult destination for Alabama.

Brett McMurphy of Stadium notes Saban has lost to just nine active coaches. Active coaches with victories against Saban are Les Miles (Kansas; 3), Hugh Freeze (Liberty; 2), Gus Malzahn (Auburn; 2), Dabo Swinney (Clemson; 2), Mack Brown (UNC; 2), David Cutcliffe (Duke; 1), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa; 1), Kevin Sumlin (Arizona; 1) and Kyle Whittingham (1; Utah). Only four of those coaches (Malzahn, Swinney, Ferentz, Whittingham) are at the same program today as they were when they topped Saban. Swinney and Brown, of course, have victories against Saban in the national championship game (Brown in the BCS and Swinney twice in the College Football Playoff).

Is Fisher going to be the first former Saban assistant to beat his old boss? We’ll find out this week. If not, we may be waiting for Kirby Smart to get another crack in the SEC Championship Game.

No. 1 Clemson hangs on against UNC for 20th straight win

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Over the course of a 20-game winning streak, there are bound to be some close calls. On Saturday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, No. 1 Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) had one of the closest calls of their current 20-game winning streak as the Tigers held on to escape an upset bid by North Carolina (2-3, 1-1 ACC), 21-20. Clemson came up with a stop on a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute of the game and prevented UNC from coming up with an onside kick to grab the win.

North Carolina did a good job of keeping Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence off his mark for most of the night (Lawrence was 18-of-30 for 206 yards and a touchdown), but he delivered a perfect pass to give Clemson its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter with a pass to Tee Higgins.

UNC had an answer, however. Freshman quarterback Sam Howell led the Tar Heels on a 16-play drive and 75 yards to get on the doorstep of the end zone in the final minutes of the game. Javonte Williams pushed the ball in for a touchdown to cut the Clemson lead to one. Head coach Mack Brown didn’t hesitate and was ready to go for two and the win. But Clemson was ready for the play and was all over Howell on the run.

After the win, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney praised the effort by the Tar Heels and admitted to being out-coached by Brown. Swinney also said his team is not entitled to win and still has to go out and earn their wins just like everybody else.

Clemson now continues to extend its winning streak to 20 games, a school record. After getting next week off, the Tigers will host Florida State. North Carolina will visit Georgia Tech next week. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 24-2 loss at Temple.

Kelly Bryant on Dabo Swinney’s national title ring snub: ‘It’s not really a story’

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There was quite a bit of a stir and a debate over whether or not it was right for Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to not award a national championship ring to former Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant. But as far as the former Clemson quarterback (and now a Missouri Tiger quarterback) is concerned, there is no reason to have much fuss over it.

“A ring is a ring,” Bryant said when speaking to reporters covering the Missouri Tigers, per Peter Baugh of The Athletic. “I’m in Missouri, and I don’t play any mind to that. Everybody else can make a story about it, which it’s not really a story.”

This statement is similar in tone to the one Bryant had at SEC media days, when he was asked about not receiving a championship ring from his previous school. Bryant said at the time it was no big deal for him. More recently, this became a topic again because Swinney defended the decision in an interview with ESPN, saying you had to be on the team at the time the championship was won in order to receive a ring.

Bryant started the season as Clemson’s starter for the eventual national champions, but he was replaced as the starter by freshman Trevor Lawrence. That moved ended up working out quite well for Clemson, as Lawrence led the Tigers to a national championship a year after Bryant failed to get Clemson past Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Bryant was quoted as saying the benching in favor of Lawrence felt like a slap in the face at the time, and Swinney said in a conference call he did not think Bryant’s decision to transfer was the best decision to make although he respected it. Bryant left the program at the end of September 2018 and declared his intention to move to Missouri as a graduate transfer in early December.

A number of Clemson players made their way to Missouri to cheer on their former teammate at Missouri’s spring game, so there is clearly some ties between Bryant and his former program.

The bottom line is if Bryant says not getting a championship ring is no big deal, then this story can now be put to rest.

Former Clemson, East Carolina RB Tyshon Dye dies in drowning accident

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Former Clemson and East Carolina running back Tyshon Dye, 25, died after drowning in a state park in Georgia on Friday. As reported by The Greenville News, Dye was unable to swim to shore after swimming with his two brothers, who were unable to help him once they noticed Dye was struggling.

Dye was a member of Clemson’s national championship team in 2016 and the national runners-up in 2015, although he did play in the national championship game (both against Alabama) in either season.

“All of our hearts are just broken,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said in a released statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. I can honestly say Tyshon Dye is one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever been associated with or coached. We’re just all heartbroken tonight, and we’re praying for his family and know that he’s been called home.”

Dye rushed for a career-high 124 yards in a game in his freshman season with the Tigers in 2014 when he carried the football 20 times and scored two touchdowns against Georgia State. After graduating from Clemson, Dye transferred to East Carolina for the 2017 season. With the Pirates, Dye rushed for a career season-high 217 yards in eight games.