Clemson football: Keeping up with Bama, Ohio State is no easy task

Keeping up with Bama, Ohio State is no easy task for Clemson football

To say that the Clemson football program is consistently punching (and winning) outside of its weight class would be a massive understatement.

There’s no doubt that Dabo Swinney has built this Clemson football program into a nationwide juggernaut that has become the envy of basically every other fan base in the country. The Tigers are tied for most all-time CFB Playoff appearances (6) with Alabama and they’ve won two National Titles in the last five years. Clemson has also consistently dominated the ACC for more than the last half-decade, winning six-straight ACC Championships.

But how does Dabo Swinney do it? In some ways, it’s absolute magic.

Keeping up with the Alabamas and Ohio States of the world isn’t an easy task for anybody, especially Clemson.

Clemson football is well-funded, no doubt, but there is still a gap in resources comparing the Tigers to other national powerhouses

There’s no doubt that Tiger fans are some of the most passionate in the country. IPTAY consistently brings in millions of dollars every year and the amount of donors and invested alumni base in the program may be the most impressive in the country.

That being said, the Tigers still face financial gaps when comparing their resources to that of Ohio State and Alabama.

Here are just a few numbers & stats:

Clemson’s ACC revenue (with the network) from last year was $34 million, which was the largest amount in the conference. In the same year, the Big Ten served as a revenue stream of more than $54 million for Ohio State and the SEC gave Alabama upwards of $45 million.

It’s not just conference money, though.

Here’s a look at the three schools and their enrollment numbers:

  • Clemson: 23,406
  • Ohio State: 66,444
  • Alabama: 38,563

While Clemson has a heavy donor base, so does Ohio State and Alabama and their alumni base is much bigger, so they have more names to pull from when it comes time to generate more revenue.

It’s not just financials or pure numbers, either.

Here’s how each school finished in the recruiting rankings (according to 247 Sports’ Composite Team Rankings) in the last five years (starting with 2017 and working our way through 2021):

2017:

  • Clemson: No. 16
  • Ohio State: No. 2
  • Alabama: No. 1

2018:

  • Clemson: No. 7
  • Ohio State: No. 2
  • Alabama: No. 5

2019:

  • Clemson: No. 10
  • Ohio State: No. 14
  • Alabama: No. 1

2020:

  • Clemson: No. 3
  • Ohio State: No. 5
  • Alabama: No. 2

2021:

  • Clemson: No. 5
  • Ohio State: No. 2
  • Alabama: No. 1

Those two programs are consistently getting their pick of the top 5-stars in the country and Clemson is consistently hanging in there with them in many recruiting battles.

The Tigers have also found a way to evaluate players who aren’t necessarily as highly-rated and still develop them into top-tier talent.

The overarching point? It’s not easy to do what the Tigers have done.

You’re talking about millions of dollars in disparities the difference between Clemson and the other two top programs in the nation and, yet, the Tigers are competing with them year-in and year-out (and winning in many occasions) consistently.

There are a lot of programs who have more money than Clemson, but there’s something special about this place and the culture that Swinney has built. Clemson isn’t in a large city district with tons of resources, but instead offers that ‘small town’ feel to recruits who can’t describe what they experience except with the phrase: ‘There’s something in those hills.’

It’s not an easy task to compete head-to-head in recruiting battles and on-the-field matchups year-in and year-out with programs who have millions more dollars at their disposal than you, but Clemson football has done so (and successfully) and it doesn’t seem like the Tigers are slowing down anytime soon.

That being said, Tiger fans need to enjoy the ride and realize what’s happening in this program right now is special. It’s no easy task to keep with Alabama or Ohio State, but Clemson is out in front of the race and has made the Crimson Tide and the Buckeyes catch up with them, versus the other way around.