Why is Another ACC Championship Coming to Clemson?

Here is something you probably have not thought about.

Every time Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has made or was forced to make a change at offensive coordinator, the Tigers won the Atlantic Coast Conference the very next year.

Should Clemson fans expect their team to win the ACC next season now that Swinney has let go of Brandon Streeter as offensive coordinator and hired Garrett Riley in his place?


The facts do not lie.

After a turbulent 2010 season, his only losing season as a head coach, Swinney replaced then OC Billy Napier with Chad Morris, and up-and-coming play caller at the time, who was just one-year removed from the high school ranks.

What happened in 2011? Clemson won its first ACC Championship in 20 years. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The Tigers not only won the league and played in their first Orange Bowl in 30 years, but they also improved dramatically in every major offensive category. Granted, it also helped that Morris had playmakers like Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Ellington and Dwayne Allen at his disposal.

However, Watkins was the only new guy on that list, so coaching and his scheme had something to do with it as well.

Morris stayed at Clemson through the end of the 2014 regular season when he left Tigertown to become the head coach at SMU. Though Clemson’s offense was one of the best in the country in 2012 and ’13, the Tigers failed to win the ACC.

With Boyd and Company all gone and trying to live their NFL dreams, Clemson slipped a little bit under Morris in 2014. Before the Russell Athletic Bowl against Oklahoma, Swinney promoted Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott to replace Morris as co-coordinators, while Streeter was brought in to coach the quarterbacks.

The result was a 40-6 victory over the Sooners, which catapulted Clemson on one of the greatest runs in school history the next season.

What happened in 2015? With Elliott and Scott running the offense, the Tigers became one of the best offenses in the country again and won their first 14 games. They won the ACC for the first time since 2011, while advancing all the way to the College Football Playoff National Championship, where they lost in a shootout to Alabama.

The 2015 season, set the tone for what happened over the next five seasons – two national championships, three more CFP Championship Game appearances, five more appearances in the CFP and five more ACC titles. Clemson became one of the best programs in the country and everyone wanted to play in its offense.

Scott got an opportunity to be a head coach at South Florida following the 2019 season, while Elliott got his opportunity at Virginia at the end of the 2021 regular season.

Swinney again promoted from within, moving Streeter up as the new offensive coordinator, while promoting former analyst Kyle Richardson to tight ends coach.

What happened?

Clemson won the ACC, again. And, oh by the way, the Tigers improved on offense, though at times this year it did not seem that way.

But at the end of the season, Clemson was significantly better in every offensive category. The Tigers averaged seven more points per game than they did in 2021. They averaged 50 more yards per game in total offense, 40 more in passing average and 10 more in rushing average.

Clemson was also second in the conference in third down conversions (47.6 percent) and red zone touchdowns (45). It led the ACC in red zone scoring (93.6 percent) and was first in converting those opportunities into touchdowns (72.6 percent).

The Tigers converted 62 red zone trips into 45 touchdowns.

However, we did see the offense struggle at times in the last half of the season. What happened to the offense in the Notre Dame, South Carolina and Tennessee games—the Tigers only three losses—likely spelled doom for Streeter’s future at Clemson.

Swinney made his change at offensive coordinator, and I am sure he had his reasons. And though everyone will put all their money on Florida State to win the ACC next season, I am going to go with history. History tells me when Swinney makes or has to make a change at offensive coordinator, at the very least, an ACC Championship is coming to Clemson the very next season.

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