Topic: WR Play
There is a strong coaching heritage over the 120 years of Clemson football that dates to the early 1900s, when John Heisman led the program. Jess Neely and Frank Howard continued the winning and joined Heisman in the College Football Hall of Fame. Danny Ford, a finalist for the Hall of Fame last year, led Clemson to the 1981 National Championship.
Dabo Swinney has been at Clemson for just eight years as head coach, but he has cemented himself among the Tiger legends of the past. He will be the first person to tell you that the program has not reached all of its goals just yet, but he took the 2015 Tigers to the brink of winning the program’s second National Championship.
Swinney guided Clemson to the No. 1 national ranking in every College Football Playoff poll in 2015, and led the Tigers to their first National Championship Game appearance under the new format after his team defeated Oklahoma 37-17 in the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31. The Tigers led Alabama in the fourth quarter of the championship game, but came up just short, 45-40, in an epic game in Glendale, Ariz.
Following the team's 14-1 record and No. 2 final ranking, he was the recipient of 10 National and two ACC Coach-of-the-Year honors. The win over Oklahoma made him just the second coach in college football history (joining Alabama's Bear Bryant) to beat the Sooners in two different bowl games.
Clemson’s 13th win, which came against North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game on December 5, established a single-season school record. It was the Tigers’ 15th ACC Championship, matching Florida State for most in history. All told, the Tigers defeated four teams that finished the season in the top 15 of both polls, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Florida State.
He coached Deshaun Watson to a record-setting sophomore season. The quarterback became Clemson’s first Heisman Trophy finalist after becoming the first player in FBS history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season.
Watson was named the ACC Player-of-the-Year and Most Valuable Player of the ACC Championship Game and Capital One Orange Bowl, in addition to being a finalist for most national offensive awards. He took home the Davey O'Brien and Manning awards, given annually to the nation's top quarterback.
Also in 2015, a record 17 players were named to one of three All-ACC teams in 2015, including all five starting offensive linemen for the first time in school history.
The 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons were also noteworthy, with three top-15 final rankings in the polls. Clemson joined Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon as the only schools in the nation to make that claim. Each of Clemson’s teams from 2011-15 also won 10+ games, the first time the program has done it five straight seasons. Only Alabama has duplicated the feat.
Over the past five seasons, Clemson has compiled a 56-12 record, the most wins in a five-year period in school history. Thirty-six of the victories have come against ACC teams. The 2015 seniors finished their careers with a 46-8 record, including a 29-4 mark in the ACC.
Clemson was in the top 10 of APR scores and the final top 25 of the AP and USA Today polls in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, the only FBS program that could make that claim.