Final 2021 Clemson Armchair Perspective: Finding Beauty In Ugly Season

As in life, all good and bad things must come to an end and so it is with these post-game reflections for the 2021 season.

I’ll be back next year, in a new armchair. This one’s leather is worn, the arms wobbly from fighting for every win. It’s served me well but it’s time for a new one and a new beginning for 2022.

Wednesday night there seemed to be an almost scripted media narrative that was absolutely positive. Shocking, but true. To a person, each pundit commented on the Clemson culture and extolled it’s virtues. Who can blame them? It is worthy of all praise.

Looking back at the season, from this armchair, one can get lost in the moments. Reacting to the obvious struggles each and every week was exhausting. However, from here, in my comfortable perch, I can now fully appreciate what has been accomplished and it has been amazing, absolutely amazing.

Injuries, offensive struggles, coaching changes, transfers, it’s been staggering. Lesser teams would have crumpled, not this one. They were in the fight every single game. Looking back, some (me included) referred to 2021 as ‘the ugly season.’ It was different, at times gut wrenching, difficult and perplexing, but looking back now, it was anything but ugly.

There’s no such thing as an ugly baby nor an ugly 10-3 season. Babies, as they grow become more beautiful and I suspect, in time this 10-3 slugfest of a season will be hailed as a watershed moment in Dabo Swinney’s coaching career.

I understand everything that can be said about 2021 has mostly been said but one thing is worth repeating. The narrative of the media during the Cheez-It Bowl on Wednesday night was that Clemson is splendidly different.

In a step back season with no playoff berth, a season filled with unfulfilled expectations, difficulties, frustrations and a roster filled with numerous future NFL stars, not one single player opted out, yes, ZERO. These young men proved to the college football world that Clemson is different, it’s special and stands as a testament to all things right in all of sport, commitment, loyalty and brotherhood.

In the ever changing landscape of college football, Clemson is a constant. As this season ends, that’s how I will remember 2021. From this armchair, this season was anything but easy, but nothing worth attaining is easy, it’s hard. In five, ten or even twenty years as you look back on this season, remember these Tigers, these warriors, these exceptional young men.

I’ll leave you with an image, burned in my soul, that completely represents these 2021 Band of Brothers. It is always a great time to be, not just a Tiger, a Clemson Tiger! Thanks for reading and here’s wishing each of you a happy, safe and prosperous New Year. See you all in 2022.

Clemson defensive end K.J. Henry (5) checks on linebacker James Skalski(47) after he stopped Georgia Tech freshman Jordan Yates (13) short of the end zone during the fourth quarter in Clemson, S.C., September 18, 2021. (Courtesy of Ken Ruinard)

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2 thoughts on “Final 2021 Clemson Armchair Perspective: Finding Beauty In Ugly Season

  1. Well said, Jason. You did a great job this year and summed it up well here. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2022, Go Tigers!

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