"Sustaining success"

It's been 12 years since Clemson both started and ended a season ranked inside the top 25. Will that finally change this season?

Dabo Swinney has come up with a handful of pretty good slogans over the years for this football team.

Last season, it was the "Shock the world tour" that saw Clemson open 8-0. There was also, "All In," which began in 2008 when he took over for Tommy Bowden halfway through the season.

And there have been others ... many others.

Looking ahead, if Clemson's fourth-year coach is to come up with the next big catch phrase or slogan in Tigertown, it should be something about "sustaining success."

Certainly it would be more creative, but that should be the overall "tone" for this coming season because it hasn't been something this program has well in recent years.

You see, going back nearly 15 years, Clemson has rarely been able to put together back to back strong seasons.

In fact, it's been downright mind-boggling at times.

1990 10 9
1991 8 18
1992 13 UN
1993 22 23
1994 24 UN
1995 UN UN
1996 UN UN
1997 18 UN
1998 UN UN
1999 UN UN
2000 17 16
2001 UN UN
2002 UN UN
2003 UN 22
2004 15 UN
2005 UN 21
2006 18 UN
2007 UN 21
2008 9 UN
2009 UN 24
2010 UN UN
2011 UN 22
Consider this: the Tigers have been ranked inside the AP top 25 to start the season four times since 2000, but only finished one those seasons ranked (2000).

Strangely enough, Clemson has actually finished inside the top 25 six times during that same period.

Not bad.

Again, strangely enough, five of those six seasons, the Tigers began the year unranked.

All things being equal, finishing the season ranked is obviously much more important than starting the season ranked. The point is, only once since the 1994 season have the Tigers started and finished the year ranked inside the top 25.

And not since 1990-91 has Clemson sustained a top 25 ranking for two seasons.

Don't think this has gone lost on Swinney.

He knows after capturing Clemson's first league championship since 1991 last season the next step for his program is do it again.

And again.

"We need to be a program that year in and year out is nationally relevant," he said. "That is the next step for us- to where we put together three, four, five really strong seasons together in a row. We need to become that consistent winner. We need to get where people aren't hoping to win, they are expecting to win."

The opportunity clearly is there this year. Coming off a 10-win season and an ACC title, the Tigers should be ranked to start the season.

But will it be at the end of the year?

Swinney said his program knocked down a lot of walls with what it accomplished last season and he was right. It did.

What about this year?

"Sustaining success" is what I'm looking for.

And hopefully Swinney can come up with a more creative version that unites Clemson fans, sparks his team, provides good sound bites and more.

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