Recently I was made aware of a rather interesting post on ND Nation. If you've never been to ND Nation, imagine TigerNet but pretend that they are stuck in the 1980's in all aspects of life. The post was about expectations for Notre Dame football and it had some rather interesting responses. This one may have been the highlight.
Notre Dame should:
— Finish the regular season in the top 12 every year.
— Be in contention for the national championship, meaning finishing in the top 4, 5 years out of each decade.
— Win one national championship each decade.
I really had to laugh at this, especially the second item. After some research, it is extremely rare for a team to finish the season ranked in the top 4 more than 4-5 seasons in a decade (1980-89 etc.), and even then it only happened for 1 decade back in the 50's and 60's.
But the post did get me thinking about what expectations would be like for Clemson. We've always spent time talking about expectations for a single season at STS, but never what a more long term vision of success is. I feel like there is a different set of criteria when you look at a time span of 5-10 years as opposed to a single season.
I decided to look at it by decade and below is what I came up with. I based my expectations on the current college football conferences lasting for 10 years as well as the current playoff lasting that long.
Beat South Carolina 6-7 times a decade
WIn the ACC Atlantic 4 times a decade
Win 2 ACC Championships per decade.
Make it to the CFB playoffs 1 time a decade.
Make at least 4 of the bowls that the playoff committee sets matchups for.
The first expectation has to involve South Carolina, and I would expect Clemson to beat them 6-7 times in a decade. We have a career .580 winning percentage in the rivalry, .610 before the current streak, and I would expect that to continue.
For division titles I think 4 is a fair goal, but right now it definitely appears difficult. Since 1991 we've only appeared in 2 ACC title games so this would be that next step for Clemson. I'd love for this goal to be more, but it would be unrealistic with FSU doing so well and Louisville capable of snagging a division title or two.
Now once Clemson gets to the ACC Championship, I'd say setting 2 out 4 titles is a pretty good goal. With the hot mess that is currently the Coastal Division I'd expect them to win them all, but everyone knows the Coastal isn't going to be that bad for an entire decade. These things are cyclical and at some point the Coastal will be able to win a few ACC titles.
The last two goals are a bit of a, "who the Hell knows what is going to happen," type of thing. All we know for sure about the playoff is that conference championships are going to matter. I can't tell you how important they are or anything else. Because of that I've gone conservative and said that the expectation would be to make the playoffs once. Almost certainly that would come from winning a conference championship.
The second goal of making the bowl games the playoff committee decides the match up for is a bit easier. With 4 games to be filled outside of the semifinals, there is plenty of room for an exciting Clemson team to go to a big bowl game. Now some of this may be underestimating expectations with the playoffs, but until we see a season or two play out it is a lot of guessing.
What would your expectations for Clemson football be?