Clemson head coach was a guest on Colin Cowherd’s show last week and the two broached a wide variety of topics.
‘Oh man, every loss is tough,” Swinney said. “Probably, the first National Championship in ’15. I thought we were the better team. We really dominated the game, had the lead in the fourth quarter, and they had the 100-yard kick return, and they had the onside kick and that was the difference in the game. And it was a 45-40.”
That Clemson team, led by quarterback Deshaun Watson, basically moved the ball at will against Nick Saban’s vaunted defense that night. However, the Tigers had to many busts on the backend, as well as special teams mishaps that cost them big.
“At 35 years since Clemson had been a National Champion, and here we are, we’ve come from our beginnings in ’09. And now it’s 2015, it’s six years later, we’re in a National Championship. We’re playing Alabama. And we really, I mean, we put up almost 600 yards of offense, but we just made a couple too many mistakes, and the kick return and their execution on that onside kick, that was a really, really tough… I mean, they’re all tough, but that was just gut-wrenching, because you felt like you just let everybody down, and it was a tough moment.”
As much as it hurt at the time, Swinney now looks at that game as just one small step in a very long and productive journey.
“It just wasn’t meant to be, but it was all part of our journey. And in the very next year, we win it all, with one second on the clock, in another epic game.”