The Clemson Tigers defeated the Alabama Crimson 35-31 to win the 2016-17 College Football Championship and solidify its spot atop the College Football world.
On Tuesday after Clemson’s big win, head coach Dabo Swinney made a bold statement about the Atlantic Coast Conference:
“The best conference in college football,” Swinney told reporters.
It’s hard to argue against Swinney after the season the conference just had, topped off by Clemson dismantling Ohio State and beating Alabama. Overall, the ACC went 9-3 in their bowl games, the best of any conference in the country. Clemson’s title game win is also the ACC’s second national championship in four years, following Florida State’s victory in the final BCS Championship Game.
Swinney later expanded on his ACC comments.
“I think all you media folks need to change your stories,” Swinney said during a news conference. “It sounds good. I’ve been in this league a long time, and this league has never gotten the respect that it deserves. I said about five years ago, just keep your mouth shut and go play. If we want to change the story, then we’ve got to change it from the inside out. Let’s line them up, let’s go play them. You’ve got to win those games. I told my AD that. I told Terry Don Phillips that. We’ve got to go play people and we’ve got to win. We’ve got to find a way. That’s the only way it’s going to change.”
“I knew. I mean, I watch on tape, I watched all the Big Ten film and all that stuff. This is the best conference in college football. It’s the deepest, it’s the most competitive. You look at the head-to-head records against the SEC. … You don’t want to play a team from this conference. You just don’t. I don’t care; name one. That’s why we’re ready. That’s why we’re ready to go play Oklahoma two years in a row. That’s why we’re ready to go play Ohio State two out of the last four years. We’re ready, because of what we see week in and week out in this conference.”
This past season, the ACC went 10-4 against the SEC and 6-2 against the Big Ten, both of which are league records for the most wins against those conferences. Oddly enough, the two losses to the Big Ten were by Duke and Pittsburgh, both to Northwestern.
Eleven teams finished with a winning overall record, which is an ACC record. The ACC was also the only league with a winning record against Power 5 teams this year at 17-9, and went 51-17 against all non-conference opponents, the best for any conference and a league record for most wins in a season.
“I said five or six years ago when we were going through a rough stage in the postseason and not winning our share of nonconference games during the regular season that the solution to that was pretty simple, but hard to do,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said earlier in the week. “We needed to win more games, need to be better in the postseason, needed to win more of the right kinds of games. What we’ve seen over the last four or five years in the ACC is that our teams have done that. Certainly led by Clemson and Florida State, but we’ve developed a great deal more depth as well and I think that’s become pretty obvious. It all is pretty well culminated this year.”
Before Florida State won the BCS Title in 2014, it had been 14 years since an ACC team last appeared in a national championship game. With two titles in the last four years, the ACC has really proven it’s a tough conference.
Here are some of the ACC’s marquee non-conference wins this year:
September 3rd – Clemson beat Auburn 19-13
September 5th – Florida State beat Ole Miss 45-34
September 10th – Pittsburgh beat Penn State 42-39
November 26th – Florida State beat Florida 31-13
December 28th – Miami beat West Virginia 31-14
December 30th – Florida State beat Michigan 33-32
December 31st – Clemson beat Ohio State 31-0
January 9th – Clemson beat Alabama 35-31
These comments from Swinney also aren’t his only big statements following the victory. After the game early Tuesday morning, Clemson’s head coach went after Colin Cowherd.