SAN JOSE, Calif. — Hours after winning his second national title and handing Alabama coach Nick Saban his worst loss in 12 seasons, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said his program is still “a long way from a dynasty.”
“We’re as good of a program as there is out there,” Swinney said at his news conference on Tuesday morning, “but we’re a long way from a dynasty. I think from a dynasty standpoint, Alabama is kind of in a category of their own.”
Clemson earned its place in the sport’s history — becoming the first Division I/FBS team to finish 15‐0 since Penn in 1897 — with a convincing 44-16 win over No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T on Monday night.
Alabama came unraveled in the loss, an uncharacteristic performance for what many had deemed the sport’s most dominant team this season.
Clemson upended the Tide with spectacular poise from true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a stifling defense that scored once on two turnovers and held Alabama’s typically potent offense scoreless in the second half.
The Tigers ended the night as the first undefeated champion in the five years of the playoff.
While Swinney was quick to give credit to Saban, the balance of power between their programs — at least during the span of the CFP series — shifted on Monday night when Clemson improved to 2-1 against Alabama in CFP national championship games.
Saban is now 6-2 in national title games, with both losses coming to Clemson.
“We’re a great program, there’s no doubt about that,” said Swinney, who joined Saban as the only active coaches who have won multiple national titles. “We’re incredibly consistent in every area of our program, and that’s what I’m more proud of than anything is just the consistency. And one of the things we talked about this week, over the last decade, everything we’ve done once, we’ve done multiple times, and it’s kind of been a progression.
“I told them they lit up the Empire State Building once and now they’ve done it again,” he said. “So the only thing we hadn’t done again was win it all. It’s just been a progression for us. I mean, Coach Saban may have won five national championships in 10 years or however long he’s been there. It’s incredible the run that they’ve had, but we’re just thankful that we got the opportunity to experience it. But to be able to win two out of the last three, I think that certainly puts us in a place that’s pretty special from a program standpoint.”
Clemson’s senior class finished 55-4, tied with the current Alabama senior class for the most wins by a class in FBS history.