Let’s start by saying Clemson fans absolutely, positively want to see the Tigers not only make the playoff, but take home the trophy by winning it all.
But as in all of life, fans don’t always get what they want, and those can be some of the best lessons ever learned. Clemson’s loss to Georgia definitely does not rule them out of the playoff, but it is a missed opportunity that could come back to haunt Clemson under certain scenarios.
Let’s discuss a few positives from that scenario, if it were to occur.
1) Clemson once again becomes an underdog. All the fan base has heard about lately is how Clemson has taken a step back. And who knows, maybe they have to a certain extent? One thing is absolutely certain, Clemson was exceedingly dangerous as the underdog. You DID NOT want to face the Tigers the last several years when expectations were lower.
Don’t believe that? Just ask Alabama and Ohio State. Both teams were on the receiving end of Mike Tyson-ish haymakers, courtesy of Dabo Swinney and staff. Remember when players came to Alabama to win national championships but to Clemson to have fun?
It would be great to see the Tigers return to “lil ole Clemson” as Dabo likes to call it. Yes indeed, if this team misses the playoffs, it is guaranteed the talking heads will be discussing in depth how Clemson’s run is over. Players and coaches could benefit from that adversity and incentive them to respond with their play on the field, which lead to number two.
2) See how coaches and players respond to the adversity. We have seen many teams miss the playoff, and many players sit out the bowl games causing coaches put little effort in to game planning, and then those teams just look downright awful in bowl games. While I fully expect players that have a high draft ceiling to sit in that scenario, you have to wonder what a Clemson team would look like in a non college football playoff bowl playing a team like Cincinnati or Texas A&M.
College Football Playoff or not, football is a game of pride and it’s important to see players and coaches respond, even without the incentive of a national championship. That’s how Clemson came to national prominence to start with, playing with solid effort and always pushing to get better. Although, such a game would be meaningless to analysts, the fans would get a chance to see what type of resilience this current Clemson team has.
3) Humble the fan base. A little dose of humility is good for the soul. Expectations of the Clemson fan base have gotten ridiculously out of control. It’s an emotional game, and we’re guilty of it at times, but as a fan base we are spoiled. Lord forbid we lose a game, or don’t beat someone by 50, the fan base is discussing who to fire or criticizing Dabo for not snatching a player out of the transfer portal……yadda, yadda, yadda.
Everyone wants to win, all the time. Read this next sentence very carefully. That cannot and will not EVER happen. Ever. Losing is a part of the game. Sure, it’s a part that no one enjoys, but that makes it no less a part. Anyone can win, but it takes sportsmanship and class to look a rival fan in the eye and give them credit for a well deserved win.
And while we’re criticizing coaching, let’s not forget what Clemson was before Dabo Swinney arrived; a middle of the road, average team at best. Those of us that have been fans long enough to remember this will remember it well. Swinney and his staff have taken Clemson to the mountaintop twice already, and although the Tigers may be temporarily knocked down just a bit, have faith and confidence that he will take them right back to the top as if he were playing king of the hill.
Let’s hope that Clemson runs the table and enters the CFP for a record 7th straight time, but in the case they do not, it’s not the end of the world. The sun will rise the next day. Until then, and even after, enjoy the ride, or risk missing the best part of that ride.
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