Tigers being built for a sustained run

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers made the program’s first-ever trip to a BCS bowl game last season, and stand poised to make another trip this season if the team wins the season’s final three games and have a few breaks fall their way.

No one knows what the 2013 season holds for the Tigers and Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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, but with a roster full of younger players and playmakers all over the map, it could be one of those special seasons that fans of all programs dream about.

The top programs year in and year out – schools such as Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma – are at the top of the rankings before each season, and are typically there at the end of the season, something that Swinney said he wants for Clemson.

“My goal is to make this one of those top programs year in and year out,” Swinney told TigerNet Tuesday afternoon. “Not that we will do it every year, but that we’re one of those teams that at the beginning of the year and the end of the year people are talking about. Just consistently in the mix, and that is where we have not been as a program. That is what we are trying to do, and absolutely that is the goal of our program. If we can live up there in that thin air, sooner or later we are going to put it together and have that really, really special year and be 13-0 or 14-0 or whatever it is. But you have to position yourself to have that opportunity, and I think we are doing that.”

Swinney then said there is one common attribute to all of the great programs – top-notch recruiting.

“It’s all about recruiting. You have to recruit great players, and that starts with evaluation,” he said. “And you can’t just go out and sign who everybody else thinks are great players. You have to be confident in what you believe. Adam HumphriesAdam Humphries
So. Wide Receiver
#16 5-11, 190
Spartanburg, SC

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– a lot of people said the only reason we were taking Adam was because of Charone PeakeCharone Peake
So. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 200
Moore, SC

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. No, that was never the case. But you can’t worry about other people’s perceptions or anything like that. You have to evaluate properly and get as many great players as you can and you have to develop them.”

The old saying goes that the top programs don’t rebuild, they just reload, and Swinney said that is another goal he has for his program.

“That is exactly what we want to do. We want to have somebody ready to step up and be the next guy,” he said. “As we get this thing going, the juniors and seniors should be your best players. Not that you won’t have a freshman here and there that will step in and fill a void. But that is what all great programs have.”

I asked him if he believes the standard should be BCS bowls – or whatever the standard will be in a few years – and he said yes.

“Absolutely. There are only 10 schools that will be in a BCS bowl each year, but we want to be a Top 10 or Top 15 program year in and year out,” he said. “That is where we wanna live. That is what our goals are, and that is everything that we do from a program standpoint. How we recruit, our facilities, our staff, everything is geared towards being one of the best programs in the country, academically and athletically.”

With the Tigers poised for another run at a BCS bowl, I asked Swinney if he thinks the Tigers are built for a period of sustained success, with last season or this season acting as the jumping-off point.

“I think that we are built to make a run here. It has been a process, though,” he said. “It was 2009, 2010 and 2011, and there were lots of hurdles. There are a lot of things we have accomplished and a lot of things we haven’t accomplished. You take those three years and then put this year with it, and then I think we are starting to develop the consistency and the expectation of winning. More importantly, we are developing the mentality that it takes to win consistently. That is all about recruiting. All of these guys now have grown up in this program. Even the eight seniors who redshirted before I became the head coach, they have grown up in this program. The recruits have grown up here with that mentality. We have been developing leadership, and I think that is where we are headed.”

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