Just wanted to vent some frustration and give some analysis following the defeat Saturday night.
As someone who is a Clemson graduate, comes from a Clemson family and has contributed thousands of dollars to Clemson through tuition and other means I can assure you that I have earned the right to express the following opinions, and though they are tough to write I refuse to be a Kool-Aid drinker and ignore the facts as painful as they may be. I can no longer defend or boast about this program or conference. Unfortunately the days of Clemson, FSU, Miami, VT and the rest of the ACC being relevant along with win streaks against the Gamecocks are now just distant memories.
Make no mistake, Saturday will go down as a MAJOR turning point for the worse in the history of the ACC and Clemson football. Any illusions the ACC could compete on a national stage, play “big boy” football and that SEC domination was just some sort of fluke was completely buried, dug up, burned, shot and buried again on Saturday. Losses by Wake (55-21), ACC Atlantic champion FSU (37-26), Clemson (27-17) and ACC Coastal champion GT (42-10) cemented what most Clemson fans already feared; that in the eyes of the nation and the voters in the polls, the teams, Orange Bowl and anything else associated with ACC football is completely insignificant in the world of college football. ACC teams are now relegated to the place where programs such as Rutgers, Louisville and Boise State reside, where the rare accomplishment of an undefeated season just gets you the “novelty of the year” award while our counterparts in the SEC consistently use their title game as a launching pad to the national championship. As this new reality sinks in, interest in Clemson will fall significantly, game attendance and recruiting will be hurt, and the decline of Clemson football into the abyss of irrelevance will be solidified.
The future is not bright for Clemson nor the ACC. At this point Notre Dame football has no incentive to join the conference and it is likely FSU will eventually “pull a “Maryland” in a desperate attempt to somehow recapture the glory days of their program. If this happens Clemson and VT will be left on an island as the only two ACC teams who care about competing outside the conference. Because recruits have stated that a move to the Big 12 would be a geographic impossibility for their families, and a move to the SEC would be blocked by South Carolina, viable options to leave the ACC for a conference committed to football are complicated and very expensive. Even if Clemson stays and thrives in the bubble of mediocrity known as the ACC it should serve as no appeasement. The level of play in our conference only serves as an enabler to soften our players, hurt recruiting and continually degrade the football tradition we all hold dear. Clemson Nation will soon reach a point where ACC victories will become meaningless and any sense of accomplishment during the season will be wiped away during the annual butt-kicking against the SEC measuring stick in Columbia SC.
I wish I could wrap up these ramblings by saying that things will work out in the end or that Clemson will eventually become the program fans yearn for and deserve; however, a cruel fact of life is that not all stories have a happy ending.
These opinions are not necessarily those of the Proprietors of Shakin' The Southland.