January 4, 2012, Miami Florida. We all remember this date as much as we do the two national championships that Clemson has won since then.
This was the night that West Virginia ran Clemson out of Miami Gardens. If there was ever a game that changed who Clemson was it was this beat down. Coach Swinney had to go back to Clemson, South Carolina and take a real look at this coaching staff and decide if this was the staff that was capable of carrying out his plan and the goals he had for the program.
As we know, a few days later, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was terminated and the search to find his replacement took Coach Swinney to Norman, Oklahoma and an unappreciated co-defensive coordinator by the name of Brent Venables.
The ability to talk Coach Venables to Clemson will go down as one of the greatest assistant coaching hires all-time in college football history. What he has been able to do year in and year out with this program on the defensive side of the ball has never been seen before.
Had Clemson beaten West Virginia that night in Miami, chances are the program doesn’t have two national titles in the last four seasons.