by Austin Silvey @SilveyESP
NEW ORLEANS, LA -- "The last decade? Transformative. Is that a word?" That's how Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney answered a reporter's question during Sunday morning's press conference when asked to describe this last decade of Clemson football in one word.
"We've transformed Clemson, and the next decade is the Roaring '20s, so I'm excited about – I heard those were great. Hopefully we can relive those."
After losing to South Florida in their 2010 bowl game, Swinney came out and said afterwards that this would be the best decade of Clemson football ever. He was right.
Since that loss to USF, Swinney has led the Tigers to a 9-3 postseason record; 6-2 in the College Football Playoff, including two National Championships victories (a chance for a third) and four title game appearances.
He has a record of 111-15 (.881) from 2011-19 which is the second best win percentage and second most wins in that timespan, just behind Alabama who is 114-12 (.905). For the entire decade, his overall record is 117-22 (.841). By the 2017 season, he surpassed any previous Clemson team for total wins in a decade.
This is Clemson's ninth straight 10+ win season. They are just the fourth team in FBS history to accomplish that and are tied with Texas (2001-09).
Swinney has won five straight ACC Championships (2015-19) and six overall this decade, including 2011. Since 2013, the Tigers have defeated 76 Power Five opponents which is at least seven more than any other team in that timespan.
He also has Clemson in the middle of a 29-game win streak with a chance to make it 30 on Monday night. A win would also give him two straight National Titles and three of the last four which is an extremely rare feat.
"Certainly we reinforce from time to time what their opportunity is, but it's not like we're giving them anything they don't know. They know. They're very well aware of what they've been able to achieve. And listen, regardless of what happens in the game tomorrow night, it's really been a historic run."
"To win two out of the last three National Championships is amazing. I'm just super proud of all of our teams that have worked so hard to just be the best they can be, and that's really our goal. That's it. Sometimes you get beat, and our goal is to be the best we can be every single year."
"Winning a National Championship is a byproduct of that commitment. So just thankful for all of our teams, and they're well aware of all the opportunity and all that stuff, but that's really not the focus. I think when you focus on that, you're focusing on the magnitude of the moment and you lose the joy of the moment. That's all we try to focus on is just being great where our feet are and just have some fun doing what we do to get ready."
The list of accomplishments for Swinney and Clemson this past decade is seemingly endless. There is no debating that Swinney is one of, if not the best coaches in College Football right now. And if you go by the numbers, you could debate he is one of the best in history.
As this new decade begins, regardless of what happens Monday night, Swinney will continue to insist that 'the best is yet to come.'