Dabo Swinney, Clemson Have Overtaken Florida State in ACC

Pete Thamel explained why Clemson has overtaken Florida State in the ACC – and how the Seminoles can catch up

The DA Show
October 30, 2018 - 10:15 am

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From 2012-14, Florida State fans had it made. The Seminoles beat Clemson every year, won a national championship, and reached the inaugural College Football Playoff. 

The last three years, however, haven't gone as smoothly, and Clemson has taken the upper hand.

From 2015-17, the Tigers beat Florida State every year, reached the College Football Playoff every year, won a national title, and played for another. The Seminoles, meanwhile, have gone in the opposite direction and last year finished 7-6, snapping a streak of five double-digit-win seasons. Jimbo Fisher bolted for Texas A&M, and FSU hired Willie Taggart from Oregon.

It’s been quite the whirlwind in Tallahassee.

Just how far have the Seminoles fallen? Well, it depends on your perspective.

“They won the national title five years ago, so they have not precipitously fallen off the map,” Yahoo Sports college football writer Pete Thamel said on The DA Show. “But here is where things went sideways at Florida State – and one of the reasons that Jimbo Fisher said that they left. He’s watched Florida State invest in all of the wrong facilities, while Clemson’s administrators have done everything right. They have the $55 million (complex) with the slide and the bowling alley and putt-putt. Clemson has become the ‘it’ school – just like in the ’90s Florida State was the ‘it’ school. I bet junior-high-aged DA watched Charlie Ward and loved every second of it.”

Absolutely, DA said.

“They were the ‘it’ school, and now those same junior high kids watch Deshaun Watson and they see Dabo, who’s just this culture warrior and is beloved and is like the perfect coach for this millennial generation,” Thamel said. “He’s a connector. He’s the opposite of the meathead Larry Fedora type. He is just the quintessential modern-era coach. He’s positive, he’s behind guys, he’s a relentless recruiter, so they kind of have the ‘it’ coach right now in that part of the world not named Nick Saban and they have the ‘it’ program. They have the dudes. They’ve recruited. Their defensive line should have three first-round picks this year.” 

Those linemen are Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant. 

FSU has plenty of talent, too, but Clemson has more. What do the Seminoles need to do to catch up? 

“I think Willie Taggart is a good hire,” Thamel said. “I think he’ll do well there. But administratively, there’s an onus there that they need to take a hard look at what Clemson has done, swallow some pride, admit some mistakes, and start building to catch up.”

Florida State hosts Clemson at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee on Oct. 27.