Enjoy the Journey: Clemson football putting up rare numbers
|Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 7:01 AM- -|
This week’s game notes for the Homecoming game against North Carolina St. arrived in my inbox early Tuesday morning, and when I arrived in the WestZone I opened the PDF and scanned through the various nuggets and notes while waiting for head coach Dabo Swinney’s press conference.
After reading through the section that contains the various streaks this team is still working, I started wondering if all of us were actually taking the time to enjoy what’s happening around the Clemson program. And that includes those of us who cover the Clemson program.
It seems like every week somebody sends me some sort of message complaining about something that makes them angry – uniform choice or Swinney yelling at players or offensive playcalling or playing time for one of their favorite players. I laugh at those who can’t seem to see the big picture, and then I fell into that same trap while reading those notes Tuesday.
Phil Kornblut, of all people, helped me see my way clear of that trap. Kornblut, the Columbia radio personality, plugged his microphone into the sound box and made fun of me for yawning as I groused, loudly, about being tired after making the trip to Shelby, NC, Monday night for the Justin Foster announcement, getting in bed after midnight and being back up after seven to head back to Clemson.
He laughed and told me I needed to be enjoying it, and then put me in my place by reminding me that “this program has taken you to places and let you do things that are pretty special. You’ve been to a National Championship and BCS games and a College Football Playoff and conference championship games. You’re trying to tell me that isn’t fun?”
He was right.
And frankly, whether you’re a fan or a media member, this IS the golden age of Clemson football. The notes say so:
*Clemson is going for its 24th win in 25 games, and 30th in 32 tries. Think about that – this team has won 23 out of the last 24 games. That’s a winning percentage of 95.83.
*The win over Boston College gave the Tigers a 6-0 record for the fourth time in five years. The six-game winning streak to start the season for Clemson is just one
*Clemson has won 19 straight games at home, a school record and the longest active streak in the nation. Clemson has not lost at home since a loss to Florida State in 2013.
*Clemson has won 42 consecutive games against teams who were not ranked in either the AP or Amway Coaches Poll. The last time Clemson lost a game to an unranked team was at NC State in 2011.
*Clemson has won eight straight games away from home, tied for the school record. Clemson’s last loss on an opponent’s home field was in 2014 at Georgia Tech.
*The Tigers have won 12 straight conference games, tied for the longest active streak of its kind in the nation. That is also tied for the ninth longest ACC winning streak in league history and the second longest in Clemson history. Clemson won 20 in a row against ACC teams from1981-85.
*Clemson has won 23 consecutive non-National Championship games. Clemson’s only loss over the last 24 games was to Alabama in the National Championship game last year.
That’s a lot of success and a lot of winning. Nikki and I were talking about Florida St. and how they’ve struggled since winning the National Championship in 2013. They went 13-1 in 2014, but it was never easy and you could see that the season would end badly. That was followed by a 10-3 record last season – and a bowl loss to Houston – and two losses this season. Sure, most programs would love to “struggle” like that, but records like that in Tallahassee has fans screaming for people to be fired. It also shows that no matter how you recruit and what kind of tradition and facilities you have, success can be a tenuous thing for any school not named Alabama.
In many ways, I think that’s why Swinney is coaching this team harder than he has in the past and putting more of an effort into getting things right, even the small things. He realizes that open windows sometimes close, and he's making sure his team takes advantage of every opportunity.
The past few seasons have been seasons for the record books, filled with thrilling wins and big games, great players and jaw-dropping plays. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning of a long run of prosperity. But whether it ends tomorrow or six years or ten years from now, enjoy it.
Like Swinney, take advantage of every opportunity to enjoy this run.