Clemson Done ‘Pulling a Clemson’? Not So Fast
By Jim Weber
I’ve just spent the last several days hearing college football fans and the media talk about how Clemson is done “pulling a Clemson,” magically cured of the annual choke job that ruins the Tigers’ once-promising football season and now a threat to win the 2013 national title.
Have you people learned nothing about the Clemson Tigers over the years?
This is how Clemson always starts the season, with tons of talk about future NFL players and BCS title dreams. So pardon me for not being convinced that a win over LSU last season in a meaningless bowl game and a win at home to start the 2013 campaign over a Georgia team replacing almost its entire defense doesn’t mean there’s a “new” Clemson.
Not yet, anyway.
Two games can’t and shouldn’t change the perception of the Tigers; it requires an entire season of consistent play that results in nothing less than a BCS bowl victory or playing for the national title with all the talent on this Clemson team.
There’s just too much history for it to be any other way.
The Tigers started with high expectations in 2004, ‘06 and especially ‘09 - only to finish each season with at least five losses. Clemson did finally win its first ACC title in 20 years in 2010, just to turn around and get massacred in the Orange Bowl by West Virginia. And last year there were the second-half meltdowns against Florida State and South Carolina that were 60-minute microcosms of what the program had become.
Did Clemson play very well against Georgia? Of course. Do they have the talent to win a BCS bowl and possibly even play for the national title? Yes.
But in the same way fans and the media have prematurely jumped the gun so many times over the years to proclaim that big-time programs like Michigan, Florida State and Notre Dame are “back” only to end up with egg on their faces, let’s hold off on saying there’s a “new Clemson” until January.
Standing in the way is No. 10 Florida State and Jameis Winston on Oct. 19 and a trip to No. 6 South Carolina - who Clemson hasn’t been competitive with, let alone beaten, since 2008 - on Nov. 30. The reaction to Clemson’s victory on Saturday was as if the Tigers had won the national title. It makes me nervous that the Tigers might “pull a Clemson to end all Clemsons” by not even making it until Oct. 19 before falling to an inferior ACC opponent after getting too overconfident; NC State did the exact same thing to FSU last season.
So let’s all calm down and take a deep breath, then remind ourselves that there’s still four months left in the college football season. If Clemson keeps it focus and - pardon the coach speak - takes it one game at a time, the Tigers will find themselves finally living up to their tremendous potential.
Then and only then can we finally retire the phrase “pulling a Clemson.”