Before Dabo Swinney got the full-time gig as Clemson Football Head Coach in 2009, he was the interim coach in the 2008 season when Tommy Bowden was fired mid-season. By that point, the term "Clemsoning" had been coined to describe that Clemson was going to lose, especially big games or when they had the lead in a big game. In short, "Clemsoning" described that they were going to give the game away.
One example of this happened on September 20, 2014, which was Deshaun Watson's first start at quarterback, and it came at Doak Campbell Stadium against Florida State. Jameis Winston was suspended for that game for making sexually explicit comments while standing in the middle of campus. Clemson led during most of regulation and gave up a big touchdown from Sean McGuire to Rashad Greene to tie the game at 17 before going to overtime. Clemson got the ball first and then had 4th down and 1 yard on the Florida State 16 yard line and they chose to go for it. I agreed with the call since Florida State was not at full strength. But the run by Adam Choice failed and Florida State took over after holding Clemson without points on their overtime possession. Two plays later, Karlos Williams ran down the left sideline for a touchdown to lift the Seminoles to victory.
Clemson would go on to win 10 games that year, capped by a dominant performance in the Russell Athletic Bowl by senior backup Cole Stoudt since Deshaun Watson tore his ACL earlier in the season and had surgery before the bowl game after playing on it for a few weeks.
The "Clemsoning" term came back once Clemson had qualified for the 2015 College Football Playoff where they faced Big-game Bob Stoops' Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl, which led public viewers to expect Oklahoma to beat Clemson. Dabo Swinney had enough of it and stood up for his team in front of the media.
You can come after Dabo for that rant, but it's justified because he's proven everything he said after that question was asked. Winning two national championships in the next three years is justification enough. So is winning four straight ACC titles and making four straight College Football Playoff Appearances.
This most recent national championship featured many underclassmen as contributors on both offense and defense. A.J. Terrell, who opened the scoring with an interception return for a touchdown, was just a sophomore this past season. Both Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross were true freshmen. Travis Etienne, who, like Lawrence, had three total touchdowns in the game, was just a sophomore too. In the '16 championship, their key contributors were also underclassmen, led by junior quarterback Deshaun Watson and sophomore receiver Hunter Renfrow, who caught the winning touchdown. These guys don't give games away anymore. They go win and win on the biggest stage and the brightest lights. Clemson has seniors on its roster just like any other program, but their best players are the aforementioned guys who will have plenty of great times to come while they are at Clemson. They also have coaches who are still in their coaching prime. Dabo Swinney is 48 years old and probably has a good 20 years left of head coaching in college football. Brent Venables is a bit older but has been a top-notch defensive coordinator in football for more than 10 years, dating back to his first season at Oklahoma in 2004. He'll be a head coach someday but wherever that is, he'll be a great coach.
Let's stop describing "Clemsoning" as a negative term. It's now a positive term with the way Clemson has played each of the last four seasons. A combined 55-4 mark with 4 College Football Playoff appearances and 2 national championships, with both wins over 14-1 Alabama (who also is 55-4 over the past four seasons with two national championships, one over a 14-1 Clemson), is enough to show you the following: winning championships is the new "Clemsoning," and that is here to stay.
Respect The Paw.
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