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Swinney's nine wins also tied for fourth-most by a first-year head coach in the ACC and only Oregon's Chip Kelly was the first-year head coach in the country with more victories.
Unfortunately, Dark days were on the horizon for Clemson in 2010 as year two of the Swinney era ended with a 6-7 record, the school's first losing season since 1998.
Offensive coordinator Billy Napier and running backs coach Andre Powell were let go after the Meineke Car Care Bowl loss to South Florida. Defensive ends coach Chris Rumph left for the defensive line coaching position at Alabama.
Entering year three, Swinney is certain of at least one thing.
|"This is a team that's been in the penthouse, played in the championship game. They've experienced that. And they've also been in the outhouse where they've experienced the other side of it."|
"I think our guys know it's a fine line. It ain't very far from up or down."
As he approaches year three, Swinney is confident that his program is on the way back on its way up.
"I'd say we're right on track, from a program standpoint, where I want us to go long term. I think our future is very bright," he said.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is back for year three. He returns six starters to a unit that ranked 19th in the country in total defense.
Questions remain on the offensive side of the ball with a first-year starting quarterback learning a new system. But at the same time, there's plenty of excitement with offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who's brought the same run-first spread system that Auburn used to win last year's national championship.
Throw in the No. 11 recruiting class according to Scout.com, and Swinney and the Tigers are excited about the opportunity to make 2010 a distant memory.
"I'm looking forward to the season. Who knows what it's going to bring? I just know that we've got a lot good times in front of us at Clemson University," Swinney said. "Why not us? It's been 30 years since Clemson won the national championship. It's been 20 years since we've won the conference championship at Clemson. That's long enough."
Given the landscape of college football, it's time to put up or shut up.
It's time to win.
"That is my job," Swinney said. "If I'm given the opportunity, we're going to do that. I don't have any doubt about it.
"I understand you don't get a lot of time these days in building a program. It's important that we take a big step this year in solidifying the direction that I want us to go. I'm very confident that we're going to do just that."