Tigers will "be in the mix" for national title in 2016


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Can the Tigers make a similar entrance next January?
Can the Tigers make a similar entrance next January?

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney thinks his team has the chance to be playing in the season’s final game, a game played in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on January 9th of 2017 with the winner claiming the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Swinney’s Tigers went toe-to-toe with Alabama in last season’s game, a 45-40 win for the Crimson Tide. The Tigers finished second in the national polls – their highest ranking at the end of the season since 1981’s National Championship team – and many national pundits say the Tigers are good enough to make a repeat appearance in the title game.

Swinney was asked last week if the Tigers are one of the few teams good enough to win a title, and he said yes.

“I always say there is more than five or six. I usually think there are probably 10 or 12 every year that have a chance, I really do, depending on an injury here or there or some crazy play,” Swinney said. “There are 10 to 12 teams that have a chance early - it gets narrowed down pretty quick. But, yeah, absolutely, we have good personnel, we have recruited well. We are not a great team, yet. We are a team that's working toward getting great right now.”

Swinney said his team will “be in the mix” for a title in 2016.

“But I think we have the makings - we have a lot of guys back on offense. We have a lot of youth and inexperience on defense, but they are good people and young people that care,” he said. “And we have great coaches. I think, absolutely we have a chance. If we do the work this summer and have the type of camp that we need, we will be in the mix.”

The Tigers will get plenty of attention over the summer and once fall camp begins, but Swinney cautions that this year’s attention is based on what happened last season.

“Just like way back when nobody ever wrote about us. But all of the articles that you read and everybody predicting us to be a good team and are ranking us and promoting us - that isn't anything, either,” he said. “Those things have been earned by the teams that have come before this one. That is all that is a product of. And there are some guys on this team that have been on some of those teams, but this is a new team. This team hasn't earned that. That is just based on past performance.

“That is why every year you see teams ranked in the top five in the preseason and then they don't finish in the Top 25. We won't have a problem keeping these guys humble and focused. They understand we aren't going to sneak up on anybody, and we are going to get everybody's best. We are kind of used to that. It's not like this is our first year to be a good team. We have been a good team for a while, and that's the mindset of our program.”

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