2016. National Champions.
Go ahead and let that sink in one last time. You’ll hear it a lot this year, but go ahead and let it really sink in. Remember surviving NC State, beating Louisville, beating FSU, oh yea and remember beating the crap out of the Chickens. Don’t forget demolishing Ohio State and most of all don’t forget the 5 seconds that made Clemson national champs.
But that’s all over now. It is on to a new season, a new team. The goal is the same, but the road is even harder. Some want to talk about a repeat, but the truth is that it just isn’t likely. Since Clemson won the 1981 national championship only two teams have repeated. Nebraska in the mid 90’s and Alabama in 2011 and 2012.
Dabo recently talked about focusing the team on not repeating but rather competing to win a national championship. His thought is that if you are defending you are playing defense. It is a different way to look at things, and it makes sense. The 2017 team is not the 2016 team. It has different holes, possibly bigger ones. And a lot more of them as we start the season.
There is a tendency to wash over holes as fans. After all as the national champs we should be poised to repeat. But the 2016 version of Clemson was one of, if not the most talented roster the school has seen. 2017 has talent, and guys may grow into their roles, but don’t expect a reload to be automatic. We’ve seen a lot of excitement out of Fall Camp, a lot of rumors and a lot of optimism. You’ll see some optimism here too. But that doesn’t mean Clemson is good enough to win it all.
The 2017 Clemson Tigers should be pretty good. Maybe even good enough to make the playoffs. But history has shown just how difficult that is. Instead of spending the entire year gnashing teeth because this team is not as good as 2016, enjoy the 2017 team for what they will be. Celebrate the wins, lament the losses (there will be some), but don’t hold them to an impossible standard. We spent 35 years doing that at Clemson, it doesn’t make sense to do it again. There is a tendency to revere the past, to make present teams into a mold of the past. But it is a mistake. Let the team be themselves and work towards the goal. As always it is, “Best is the standard.”
Enjoy our season preview this week. We’ve got over 15 articles looking at Clemson football. There is plenty to discuss, argue, and pontificate about. And if you need a little something extra, we have our season preview magazine in eBook form. It’s a little different than what you get here.
Next week is game week, spot the damn ball.