4. Clemson does not reach the College Football Playoff for the third year in a row
I think this will be a really divisive issue in the ACC football landscape heading into next offseason. Dabo Swinney is already a college football legend, but we have to wonder if some of the Clemson Family will start to turn on him after the Tigers miss out on the College Football Playoff for the third year in a row. Cade Klubnik will play well, but he will be outmatched in some league games.
With teams like Florida State rising and Clemson not always asserting its dominance, the once vast gap the Tigers had on the rest of the 13 teams in the league may not be as wide anymore. Some of this may fall back on losing top assistants to Power Five jobs, but I think much of it will come back on Clemson not being interested in taking players from outside via the transfer portal.
It has always been different under Swinney, and for Clemson, it has worked out wonderfully. However, the times are changing in college athletics. Clemson’s mom and pop approach to being a college football power may not be sustainable long-term. I don’t think they’re going to fade into irrelevancy because kids remember this program being elite. It may be a challenging year, though…
Clemson will still win around 10 or so games and could be in the mix to reach the New Year’s Six.