It's all but impossible as a college football fan to not think from a big-picture vantage. While coaches instruct players to take things one game at a time, thinking ahead is a birthright to fans and alumni of major college football playing universities. The sting of defeat doesn't dissipate often even following a rebound win, and it's even harder to see things from 30,000 feet after a stumble.
Though 7-1 (5-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference play) is far from ideal to Clemson diehards, Dabo Swinney has the program in such a place that expectations have never been higher. When the 2013 football season is a wrap, the Tigers' knock-down, drag-out season-opening victory over Georgia will be reflected upon fondly as one of the more memorable games of the modern Clemson football era. And with South Carolina and another possible SEC bout in Atlanta or even a BCS berth after that, there's still plenty of time this year to add more to that lexicon of timeless Clemson football moments.
The recent on-the-field accomplishments of Swinney (whose Tigers are 30-6 at home under his guidance, winning 17 of 19, and 28-7 just these past two seasons) aside, the future of Clemson football is awfully bright.
2014 will see Clemson welcome 4-star Deshaun Watson, considered by some to be the best at his position in the country in the high school ranks. 4-star wide receivers Artavis Scott and Demarre Kitt, who both chose the Tigers over numerous SEC offers, will provide him with the vertical passing threats necessary to take the foundation laid by Tajh Boyd and Chad Morris and go even farther.
And though the future could prove the best has yet to come, it's hard to overlook Swinney's off-the-field accomplishments as well. Dabo's All In Team Foundation is near and dear to the Swinneys themselves with wife Kathleen, whose sister had breast cancer and had a double mastectomy herself, working tirelessly to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. They've raised nearly a million dollars in donations, and fortunately for everyone whose lives they've impacted (and even those they haven't yet), they're still just getting started.
Though a national title game appearance isn't on the table for Clemson in 2013, 2014 and 2015 are readily in play, and Clemson's next BCS bowl (or first ever College Football Playoff appearance) seems more probable than ever. When you factor in the off-the-field impact and character Swinney tries to instill in each and every Tiger he coaches, it gets harder and harder to overlook the difference he's made.
Help support Coach Swinney for Liberty Mutual's Coach of the Year Award, whose dedication and commitment are felt beyond the field of play, helping to promote academic excellence among their student-athletes and through charitable acts in their communities. You can back him at CoachofTheYear.com, or submit your vote on Facebook at Facebook.com/LMCoachoftheYear.