Swinney Stands Up for ACC...Again

Zach Lentz

Dabo Swinney did not hold pull any punches when asked once again about the strength of the ACC as a football conference.

It is a question that, for Swinney, is one that comes with a level of disrespect and ignorance that Swinney finds unpalatable. Thinking that it must be an agenda that the media has with not only his team, but the league as a whole.

“They (the media) has an agenda and it's unbelievable,” Swinney said.

In fact, Swinney would prefer that those members of the media that have any questions about the strength of the league refer to the facts saying, “Who do y'all work for and all that stuff? I have not been afraid to beat that drum with facts. Heaven forbid we let some facts get in the way.”

The facts are simple: In spite of the perceived lower tier of football being played in the ACC historically the ACC is one of the power conferences in all of college football.

Since the leagues inception in 1953 the conference has had 16 national championship teams: Clemson (1981, 2016, 2018), Georgia Tech (1990), Miami (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001), Boston College (1940), Florida State (1993,1999,2013), Pittsburgh (1937, 1976), Syracuse (1959), and Notre Dame (which joined the ACC as a partial member in 2013 officially claims 11 national titles.

The ACC has also gone 9-3 in the last 12 Bowl Championship Series games and College Football Playoff games with the Tigers winning two of the last three College Football Playoff National Championship games— something Swinney took time to remind everyone that would listen.

“Three of the last four years we have been in the national championship,” Swinney said. “In three of the last four years we have been in the final few teams. Our league is strong. It is a deep league. It is very competitive and it is hard to win. Last year, we had about 10 of the top 20 defenses out there.

“Again, all you have to do is look at what is happening at the next level from an NFL standpoint. It does not mean we are better than other people. I don’t go around beating a drum that we are the best, I just think it is a deep and talented league that is committed both academically and athletically. That speaks for itself.”

The success of the league comes from competitive scheduling outside of the league according to Swinney.

The Tigers have done their part in scheduling the best opponents outside of the their conference. The Tigers opened the 2016 and 2017 season's against Auburn, and played Texas A&M in a home-and-home series in 2018-19, in addition to their annual in-state rivalry game with South Carolina.

However they are not the only teams in the ACC that have been competitive with their scheduling.

Since 2013 the Virginia Tech has played Alabama. Syracuse has played Penn State, as has Pittsburgh. Louisville played Auburn and Alabama, Duke has played Alabama and Ohio State played Virginia Tech which has only bolstered the conferences perceived value as they continue to schedule aggressively.

“I have been in favor of trying to schedule aggressively since I have gotten this job,” Swinney continued. “No one can say anything. From our standpoint, I think our program and our brand is strong and I think we have earned that.

“It is our job to continue to keep it that way. I think it is about the program, not necessarily the league. I have always felt that way. There are some bad teams in some good leagues. There are some good teams in some bad leagues that no one will be excited about playing...I think from an ACC standpoint — what has happened in our league — I think we are strong and I think the results will continue to prove that.”