Dabo Swinney at 2019 spring game

Dabo Swinney is all smiles before the 2019 Clemson football Orange & White Spring Game on Saturday, April 6.

CLEMSON – Don't ask Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney to say he is sorry to anyone for having the best college team to step on a field in 2018.

The 15 wins in a single-season represented a school and ACC record.Clemson has accounted for three of the four 14-win seasons in ACC history.

Clemson’s 1981 National Championship team was the first ACC team to win 12 games in a season.

Florida State accomplished the feat five times between 1993 and 2014, including a streak of three seasons with at least 12 wins from 2012-14. They won a then-record 14 games (14-0) in 2013, a mark tied by Clemson in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

"I mean, I'm not going to apologize for having a great team and a great program and a bunch of committed guys," Swinney said.

For the leader of the Tigers, the thought that he needs to apologize for having a team that has appeared in the last four College Football Playoff games in a row, and won two of the last three national titles, comes from a group of people who feel that - for whatever reason - it is simply not fair.

But Swinney believes the playoff system has done exactly what the powers that be set out to do in the first place.

"I think the objective is to get the two best teams; that's kind of the way it is," Swinney said. "If that's not best for college football, then why did we even do it? Why don't we just go back to the way it was and have bowl games and you put this team against this team, and it's not necessarily the two best teams playing, and then at the end, like you used to do, you just vote on who you think is the best team. That's what we used to have. So then everybody got mad and said, 'dang, we want to put the best team against the best team.'

"So I think the first time that happened was my senior year, us and Miami, I believe, when they said, all right, we're going to start this new thing and put one and two together and do away with all these bowl affiliations; (we are) tired of all these people just saying, all right, we elect you national champion. We're not going to vote on it anymore, we're going to earn it and settle it on the field and put the two best teams together."

Many casual fans may see the 40-plus bowl games as watered down football with teams traveling all over the country, having limited fan support and empty stadiums. But, Swinney believes the opportunity afforded to those teams is one that he loves – to finish the season with a victory.

"So I think that's what college football wanted, and also being able to have some great match-ups in bowl games," Swinney said. "I think it's great that there's, whatever, 40 teams out there that can end their season with a win and have momentum going into the off-season and so forth."

Swinney is a firm believer that if the playoff system does not work out it is time to go back to the way it used to be – letting the polls decide the champions and bowl games create the match-ups they want to see.

"If this isn't good for college football, the two best teams, then we just kind of go back to the way it used to be and create all the good match-ups however you want them," Swinney said. "And then you just kind of elect a captain and you've got one national champion in this poll and one national champion in this poll and one national champion in this poll."

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia.


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