Clemson built for future

Dabo Swinney led the Tigers to the Orange Bowl last season, setting the bar for 2012. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

During the past 20 years, the ACC has been much like what the Big Ten was for a very long time, a conference with the big two (Florida State and Virginia Tech) and the little seven.

The Seminoles and Hokies won or shared the conference title in 16 of those 20 campaigns and with the recent resurgence of the Florida State program under Jimbo Fisher, there is every reason to think that trend could continue for a while.

Unless the Clemson Tigers have something to say about it, that is. Last year, Dabo Swinney led the Tigers to their first 10-win season since 1990 and first ACC title since 1991.

That might normally seem to bode well for future success, but the combination of Clemson giving up 70 points to the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Orange Bowl (the most points ever allowed in a bowl game) and the fact the Tigers have won as many as nine games only six times since their previous ACC title may have some thinking that 2011 was just a one-shot deal for this team.

After taking a closer look, however, it seems like nothing could be further from the truth. There are many reasons to think that Clemson has a good shot at not only defending its crown this year but also at being a serious contender for conference supremacy in the future.