Colin Cowherd: Clemson Not A Top Tier Program

Coming on the heels of an “anonymous ACC Coach” stating this week that Travis Etienne isn’t a truly great back, Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports is now saying that the Tigers aren’t in the class of Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Southern Cal as a top college football program.

“There are four programs in America that are just different,” Cowherd said Tuesday. “Forget that all (of them) have won national championships with three different coaches. If every program in America had their best coach ever, these four would dominate the sport.”

“It doesn’t matter who coaches LSU or Georgia. If Alabama’s got (Nick) Saban, they dominate the conference. If USC has their best coaches ever, John McKay or Pete Carroll, it doesn’t matter how good Oregon or Washington or UCLA are. They dominate the conference. There’s only four of those. That’s it.”

In his second tier of teams, he had Clemson grouped with FSU and Miami from the ACC, the teams he feels can win the national title with the right coach and quarterback. Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Penn State, Texas, Oregon, and Notre Dame fill out his second tier teams.

As far as Clemson, Cowherd feels that Dabo Swinney’s program could not compete with a Florida State or Miami when they were in their primes. What he fails to mention is that Swinney and his program are one of many reasons why those two programs are no longer nationally relevant.

“People say, ‘What about Clemson? What about Clemson?'” Cowherd said. “No, No, No, No…. slow down Clemson. Clemson is in a conference with Florida State and Miami. If Florida State had Bobby Bowden in his prime right now and Miami had Jimmy Johnson in his prime against Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s not making the playoff brother.”

Like many in the national media tend to do, Cowherd has to resort to the weak schedule argument. Why not just say the Tigers haven’t been doing it long enough and leave it at that. Because as Clemson fans can attest to, it is possible to be an elite football program playing in a bad football conference.

“Right now Clemson is beating up on a dreadful ACC where the two other powers are terrible. That doesn’t mean that Clemson is not a good program, but Clemson in the last five years has finished top-5 in the AP Poll. If you take away the last five years, the only other time they have did it was in 1981.”

“This is like recency bias,” Cowherd said. “Clemson is rolling right now. They’re going to roll again this year. They’re going to be very, very good for the foreseeable future. But if Florida State and Miami got their act together, those are better all time programs – hate to break it to you.”

Clemson is now looking at both Florida State and Miami in its rear view mirror. They have been going toe to toe with Alabama for the past five years and Ohio State has never beaten the Tigers.

Sure, Clemson may have more work to do as far as becoming one of the best programs of all-time, but this “whataboutism” isn’t how you make that argument. Comparing coaches and teams from different eras is a flawed argument from the start. It’s apples and oranges, so to speak.

This is not the first time that Cowherd has taken a shot at Clemson. Back in 2016 he had yet to come around to the fact that Clemson had evolved into one of the nations elite programs.

“Clemson’s a fraud,” Cowherd said prior to the 2016 College Fotball Playoff. “Clemson’s gonna get their ears boxed by whoever they play. They should have three losses, maybe four. I don’t buy into Clemson. They’re the New York Giants of college football. I don’t care what their record is. I don’t buy into them.”

Swinney and the Tigers got the last laugh when they throttled Ohio State 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal, then took down Alabama in arguably, one of the greatest games of this era to win their first title since 1981.

“We wanted to play Alabama, because now y’all got to change your stories,” Swinney said in response to Cowherd’s comments in 2016. “You got to change the narrative. Y’all got to mix it up. The guy that called us a fraud? Ask Alabama if we’re a fraud. Was the name Colin Cowherd?”

“I don’t know him, never met him,” Swinney said. “Ask Alabama if we’re a fraud. Ask Ohio State if we’re a fraud. Ask Oklahoma if we’re a fraud. The only fraud is that guy, because he didn’t do his homework. I hope y’all print that.”

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