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How the ‘Clemson culture’ helps out its football team

Kim Montuoro, Photo Editor
Hunter Renfrow and Artavis Scott embrace

It would be understandable for one to feel like the Clemson Tigers had reached their ultimate peak by topping the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31 in the National Championship Game, but the best is yet to come. Having flown under the radar for far too long under head coach Dabo Swinney, the Tigers are finally garnering the respect that they truly deserve and are here to stay as a national powerhouse.
Speaking on the memorable game-winning touchdown pass in Monday night’s game, Swinney told reporters, “That moment epitomizes what our program is all about. You’ve got the five-star quarterback throwing the game-winning touchdown to a walk-on wideout.”
Not only will it be forever remembered as the duo responsible for winning one of the most exciting college football games of all time, but it will also be remembered as the ultimate epitome of what has made Clemson college football’s most unique program.
Featuring a close-knit mixture of locals and non-locals, five-star prospects and unheralded prospects, Clemson is not a prototypical football powerhouse. In an era of big-name programs pulling out all of the stops to land an excess of top-tier recruits in order to “out-talent” the rest of the field, Clemson does things differently. Sure, the talent is there, but the players all mesh with Swinney’s system. Each one is “all in” and sports a team-first attitude.
Like Renfrow, Swinney was not supposed to be here. Defying all odds working against him throughout his life, Dabo has gone from being a gutter cleaner trying to make a name for himself in the coaching ranks to being college football’s most attention-worthy coach.
As a result, Swinney never takes any of his players for granted, leading to the tight unity of the Tigers that has helped them progress from a team on the cusp of returning to national prominence when Swinney took over as the full-time head coach in 2009 to the national champion.
“The best is yet to come for us. I mean this is not the end-all. You never arrive.” Those enlightening remarks from Coach Swinney in the midst of the national title celebration are very telling, as it is clear that the culture put into place by Dabo will keep the Tigers nationally relevant for years to come.
With another excellent recruiting class on the horizon for next season and a plethora of star prep quarterbacks set to join the Tiger family in the coming years, the Tigers are primed for continued greatness. The sign of a truly elite program is the ability to replenish talent on a regular basis. Alabama has done it for years. Ohio State has done it for years. Now, Clemson, who is fresh off of beating both of those mainstay programs, is doing it.
Regardless of how many national titles Clemson goes on to win during the Swinney era, the 2016-2017 title will likely always be the most special.
Like senior leader and starting linebacker Ben Boulware said in front of Tiger fans at Raymond James Stadium when citing past players who had helped lay the foundation for Clemson’s greatness, “Y’all started this foundation, and all we did is build upon it. And we finished it.”
The foundation is indeed built, and no necessary renovations are needed. But, knowing the “success is never final” attitude of Swinney and his staff, renovations will be done anyway. The infrastructure that is Clemson football will continue to be renovated year after year for continued success.
One thing is for sure, though. The “All In” formula works; that much has been proven.
And it should continue to pay dividends for years to come in Tigertown.

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