College football fans, and football fans in general are an impatient sort, but most of the top coaches all went through difficult times before reaching the mountaintop in their respective leagues.

Dabo Swinney already has two national championships to his name and five ACC championships along with a nearly 80 percent winning clip, but there was a time when things didn’t exactly look so promising.

Three years into his Clemson tenure, Swinney had a losing season in 2010 to his credit and no major bowl game appearances.

But from struggle came triumph, as the Tigers would morph into a top tier program shortly after, led by superstar wideouts DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins, along with underrated QB Tahj Boyd.

In 2011, the Tigers trailed Troy 16-13 at halftime, and were booed off the field by their usually supportive fans.

But the team turned on the afterburners in the second half and left the Trojans in the dust, outscoring them 30-3 in the second half before winning 43-19.

A game later, the Tigers were tied at 21 with the mighty Terriers of Wofford, a scene Dabo recalls in the video below.


Wofford provided a stiff challenge that day as the Tigers were booed off the field at halftime yet again, but little did Clemson’s fans know that these games would be the fuel for Swinney and the team’s first ever ACC Championship season.

Clemson would lose the following week to Auburn, but the high-flying offense the program has become known for found an extra gear against a powerhouse opponent, with quarterback Tahj Boyd throwing for 386 yards and four touchdowns.

Clemson totaled a record 624 yards against an SEC opponent, and rode the wave of momentum into a 35-30 win over Florida State the following week followed by a 23-3 beatdown of #11 Virginia Tech the next week in Blacksburg.

The stage had been set for college football’s next great program to take the reins.

Boyd put up 33 touchdowns against 12 interceptions in 2011, leading the Tigers to a 38-10 ACC Title Game win over Virginia Tech.

Check out highlights of Boyd, Hopkins and Watkins torching defenses in the highlight video below, including “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football:”


Swinney leads Clemson to the Promised Land

While Clemson went on a three-year ACC title drought following the 2011 season, their ascent to college football’s penthouse culminated in National Title Game victory over an Alabama program thought to be indestructible in 2016-2017.

Since the 2011 season, Clemson has bowl game wins over most of the country’s major powers including the Crimson Tide, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners and even the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (kidding).

The Tigers’ tale is yet another cautionary remind to fans everywhere that building a championship program takes time, and you never know what obstacles you may have to overcome along the way.

Keep that in mind the next time your team suffers an unexpected setback: the big picture is always what really matters.

Thumbnail photo via Harris Highlights/Youtube