Clemson Facing Dark Clouds of Uncertainty Along With Half-Dozen or So Cupcakes In 2022

During the golden years of Clemson football, 2015 through 2020, it seemed so commonplace, like a constant monotone drumbeat that the Tigers were the consensus pick for the ACC Championship. Then, “IT” happened. No, not “Sh1p Happens.” 2021 happened.

From a preseason article headline, Clemson was/is expected to win yet another ACC title. Not so fast. That was written last year before the 2021 anomalous year of Clemson Football. Despite the moxie of last year’s team, it gets easily dismissed, because everybody knows the ACC is filled with a dozen or so cupcakes. That reputation is like an anvil chained to Clemson. It’s part and parcel of where the looming dark clouds are coming from.

It’s understandable to some, Tiger Nation might seem like spoiled, ungrateful fans that scoffed at a 10-3 record. Actually, there was more going on, it was obvious. There was an almost apocalyptic amount of injuries, a hesitant, lost offense led by a shell shocked QB standing behind an offensive line that, at times, had more holes in it than swiss cheese. However, there has been a re-examination of the 2021 season and well-respected ESPN analyst, Tom Luginbill is on record acknowledging that 2021 might be Dabo Swinney’s best coaching job in all of his thirteen-plus year tenure.

Despite the ugliness of the offense and all the injuries, Swinney led the Tigers to a 10-3 season, I said at the time it might have been his finest hour. But now, all that seems so long ago, so inconsequential. The dark clouds of uncertainty surrounding the Tiger’s future are already gathering on the horizon. The unknowns are at the heart of the issue of where, if anywhere, Dabo Swinney’s Tigers might end up when this excruciating football conferences game of musical chairs ends.

Honestly, the absolute reason why the Atlantic Coast Conference is dying on the vine, is the lack of quality with most of it’s football programs. It doesn’t warrant a renegotiation of the media contract with ESPN. Which ultimately means starvation for Clemson unless an invitation from a wealthy suitor comes in the mail. It’s hard to not sound snarky, even ugly, when voicing my thoughts on playing cupcakes. It’s been the topic of conversation amongst many in the college football media for years, constantly hammering on how subpar the ACC schedule truly is. A former blessing can now be a curse for tomorrow.

The one saving grace, an ace in the hole, for the ACC in the last decade has been Swinney’s Clemson program. That’s why when the mighty appeared to stumble last season, it created a seismic shock felt by all. That mediocre, feckless offense and the coaching staff changes have most pundits holding their cards close the vest regarding the 2022 season.

I’m still amazed at how Swinney pulled 2021 together but it’s a new season and his leadership and vision will prove invaluable. Sadly, this upcoming season has already been hijacked by the doomed prospects that will follow the Tigers all year. Unfortunately, no “loose partnerships” are the solution. One can guess Tiger Nation won’t completely wither on the ACC vine, they can just survive, for a while, on cupcakes.

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