Colin Cowherd: Clemson Not Top Tier Program
When it comes to the discussion of who the best college football programs of all-time are, opinions can vary. There are many determining factors to consider and not everyone will always consider those same factors equally.
No other college football program has done more on the field over the last five years than Clemson has. In fact, since the year 2000, only six teams in the country have won more games than the Tigers have.
However, radio host Colin Cowherd feels the Tigers still haven't done enough when it comes to being one of the all-time best. Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Southern Cal are the four best in his eyes, and to him those four are on a level all by themselves.
"There are four programs in America that are just different," Cowherd said earlier this week. "Forget that all (of them) have won national championships with three different coaches. If every program in America had their best coach ever, these four would dominate the sport."
"It doesn't matter who coaches LSU or Georgia. If Alabama's got (Nick) Saban, they dominate the conference. If USC has their best coaches ever, John McKay or Pete Carroll, it doesn't matter how good Oregon or Washington or UCLA are. They dominate the conference. There's only four of those. That's it."
When it comes to Clemson, Cowherd doesn't even have them tops in the ACC. He actually has them behind both Florida State and Miami in his second tier of teams.
"People say, 'What about Clemson? What about Clemson?'" Cowherd said. "No, No, No, No ... slow down Clemson. Clemson is in a conference with Florida State and Miami. If Florida State had Bobby Bowden in his prime right now and Miami had Jimmy Johnson in his prime against Dabo Swinney, Clemson's not making the playoff brother."
No other ACC team has won more games than Clemson over the past two decades. The argument can be made that Dabo Swinney and the Tigers are at least part of the reason why Miami and Florida State have both taken dramatic steps backward.
Cowherd doesn't discount the fact that Clemson is on an incredible run. He just doesn't buy that they could sustain the success if Miami and Florida State were nationally relevant again.
"Clemson is rolling right now," Cowherd said. "They're going to roll again this year. They're going to be very, very good for the foreseeable future. But if Florida State and Miami got their act together, those are better all time programs — hate to break it to you.”
Like so many other analysts, Cowherd goes back to a familiar narrative to make his case. He talks about a weak ACC. At the same time, he fails to mention that just three short years ago the ACC was arguably the best of the Power-5 conferences.
"Right now Clemson is beating up on a dreadful ACC where the two other powers are terrible," Cowherd said. "That doesn't mean that Clemson is not a good program, but Clemson in the last five years has finished top-5 in the AP Poll. If you take away the last five years, the only other time they have did it was in 1981."
Has Clemson done enough to warrant inclusion into the top tier of college football programs all-time? Most would probably say no, that they still have more work to do.
However, using the weak conference argument is getting stale. And there is nothing more tiresome than comparing programs from two different eras. Why can't we just say they have more work to do and leave it at that?