CLEMSON — A day before Clemson’s annual ACC kickoff appearance, Dabo Swinney acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the conference.
Who knows how many teams will be in the ACC in the months and years to come? Who knows if there will be an ACC?
“It doesn’t matter what happens, whether the ACC goes to 52 teams or whether we go to the New Megatron World Conference, I don’t really know,” Swinney said, “but people have never come to Clemson because of the league we’re in. Honestly, people come to Clemson because we’re Clemson.
“I spent 13 years in Alabama and never recruited anyone in Alabama who came because we were in the SEC. They came because we were in Alabama.”
It was Swinney sweeping away the madness as best he could, sifting through questions about the conference realignment at Clemson’s media day on July 19. He can’t control the musical chairs of college football.
There are people above him who will weigh the dollars and cents of the ACC and his TV contract, namely Clemson president Jim Clements and athletic director Graham Neff.
“It’s Clemson,” Swinney said. “Ten years from now it will be Clemson. In twenty years, it will be Clemson. Long after I left here, it’s Clemson. That, I know.
“People come, have come, all over the country, to come to Clemson. It’s a special place, it’s one of those very, very few special places in the country that are passionate about football. .”
With everyone wondering about Clemson’s place in the future of college football — whether it’s the ACC, SEC, Big Ten or a future super-league — the Tigers are much more concerned with recovery. between the lines in 2022.
After a 10-win non-playoff season in 21, something unusual for Clemson in recent years, there are other elements of uncertainty swirling around.
There are new faces on Swinney’s team, including coordinators Brandon Streeter and Wes Goodwin. Equally important, the men they replace, newly appointed head coaches Tony Elliott and Brent Venables, are pitching rookies in Virginia and Oklahoma, respectively.
Clemson is a hot topic on the recruiting track, according to first-year offensive line coach Thomas Austin.
“Everyone is talking about Clemson,” Austin said. “There’s more negative recruiting than I thought, because we’re talking about Clemson. We’re not talking about the others. So I think some people have tried to expose some of the cracks in the Clemson armor (for say ), hey, this is the beginning of the end for us.”
Despite these undermining efforts, Clemson is building a recruiting class of 2023 currently ranked in the top 5 nationally. And the Tigers can continue to build the brand this coming season.
Fall camp is set to open Aug. 5, and after an injury-plagued season, the Tigers are pretty much in perfect health now, without first-year wide receiver Adam Randall, who continues to recover from a tear. of the ACL in the spring.
There are questions about the offensive side of the ball, particularly the development of quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and the interior offensive line. But on the defensive end, Clemson may have the best front line in all of football and the fastest linebackers in recent program history.
It may seem like a chaotic time for college football, and it’s a tough time for Clemson fans who wonder if TV money brought in by the SEC and Big Ten will make the Tigers stay in the ACC untenable. . But Swinney points out that the Tigers have been competing against programs with bigger wallets for years, like Ohio State and Alabama.
On the contrary, Swinney thinks the instability of college football could be a short-term benefit.
“Coach Swinney said the other day, the more chaotic college football gets, the more attractive Clemson will become to good guys,” Austin said. “We were able to find the right guys that fit our culture, that fit our program, the right families that fit our program.”
Will these rookies end up playing their entire careers in the ACC? No one, especially Swinney, can guarantee that. Of course, Swinney thinks there will be a restructuring of college football governance at some point. Change is coming.
But somehow Swinney doesn’t anticipate change. Clemson is Clemson, and that’s the message his coaches are preaching.
“We’re just being ourselves, man, and keep working and letting everybody fight each other, and we’ll keep sitting here and working,” the line’s first-year coach said. defensive Nick Eason. “I think of us as the quiet storm.
“We just sit here and work it easy and let everyone in on the shenanigans of college football madness, man. But our standard is our standard, and we are who we are. And that’s not going to change.”