The best era of football for every current ACC school

Looking back at the best era of every ACC football team.
Duke v Louisville
Duke v Louisville / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
3 of 17

Clemson Tigers: Dabo Swinney Era(2009-Present)

This is the first school that has an obvious choice for their best era. The recent success of Dabo Swinney's tenure at Clemson is by far the best run the school has ever had on the gridiron. Older Clemson fans might be very fond of the 1980s and that's completely understandable. The 1981 squad under Danny Ford, not the 2016 team, earned the Tigers' first National Championship on the gridiron. Ford never even came close to a losing season and had four years where his Tigers reached at least 10 wins.

However, this is Clemson's golden era. Dabo Swinney's run at Clemson began in 2008 when Tommy Bowden resigned just six games into that year. Swinney, who was the receivers coach before Bowden's resignation, did an alright job during his first two full seasons and final seven games of 2008. Then came the 2011 campaign where Clemson would have their first 10-win season since 1990 and their first appearance in the Orange Bowl since 1981.

That 2011 season was Swinney's first major success and more importantly, kicked off an impressive streak of twelve consecutive years with at least 10 wins. This streak is near the top, where Alabama currently holds the record for the most consecutive years with double-digit wins. Clemson's 11-2 finish and Orange Bowl win in 2013 gave them a ranking at #8 in the final AP Poll, their first top-10 finish since 1990. And then we start getting into the amazing stuff, beginning in 2015. Led by sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Tigers appeared in the second-ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

A year later, Clemson would win their first National Championship since the aforementioned 1981 season. Two more appearances in the National Championship Game would follow in 2018 and 2019, including another title in 2018. Under Swinney, Clemson has never missed the bowl season and has claimed eight ACC conference titles. Including the National Championships, Clemson has won twelve bowl games and has had seven top-10 finishes in the AP Poll. I think it's safe to say that Swinney has established himself as one of the greatest coaches of all time he currently ranks 18th in career-winning percentage and has coached 12 Consensus All-Americans. No doubt this is Clemson's best era.