Which team is the top College Football program in the nation and what separates Alabama and Clemson? Let’s take a look…
When you think of greatness in College Football, you think of Alabama in the Bear Bryant days, Notre Dame, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and many more. There’s merely no precise formula of continued success. It’s not a math equation; it’s a challenge that some coaches view as one thing.
When you get to the top of the Mountain, you become the mountain, but the great ones say one thing, I can be even better.
Every NFL Team is called an Organization for a reason. There are people for each role for every aspect of it. There’s the Owner of the team, who’s the ultimate boss. There’s the GM, Head Coach, assistant coaches, scouts, interns, etc. In College Football, one man runs the entire program. The Head Coach.
The Head Coach in College Football, by all accounts, runs the city or town the University presides in. When a player gets in trouble with the law, their first call is not their parents; it’s the Head Coach. They not only run the team, but they also run the whole city.
With success comes power. Those fans will worship the grounds those great coaches walk upon. In Cities like Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Nick Saban is quite literally their God. In the entire state, he is their God; cities like Clemson, South Carolina, Dabo Swinney is their God. These two men are revered and worshipped by those towns and fans like no one else.
There is no dispute that the two top College Football programs are the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers. The constant argument over who’s better comes down to a straightforward two-word answer—their coaches.
The answer to who’s better isn’t what Head Coach is better, Saban or Swinney. The answer is the assistant coaches. Not the awards they win, but how long their coaches are in the building. Clemson has had the same core three coaches for at least six seasons to break it down quickly.
They have had Brett Venables as Defensive Coordinator and Tony Elliot as Offensive Coordinator. Clemson’s top 3 coaches have remained the same for more than half the decade.
To Shift the focus to the Crimson Tide following 2015, long-time Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart departed for Athens to coach the Bulldogs. Then in 2016, third-year Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin left the team before the National Championship, having Steve Sarkisian fill his role for one game.
Going into 2017, former Patriots tight end coach Brian Daboll was hired as Offensive Coordinator. Daboll left for Buffalo at the end of the year. Two-year Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt left for Knoxville. Going into 2018, Co-Offensive Coordinators Mike Locksley and Josh Gattis left for Maryland and Michigan. Defensive Coordinator Tosh Lupoi left for the NFL.
In 2019 Steve Sarkisian was hired to be the full-time offensive coordinator and lasted through the 2020 season. Pete Golding was the Defensive Coordinator to this day, and Steve Sarkisian left for Texas for 2021. Bill O’Brien was hired for the 2021 season following a tumultuous ending in Houston.
Top College Football Program in the Nation: Conclusion
Since 2015 the Clemson Tigers have had one primary Offensive Coordinator and one Defensive Coordinator. Alabama has had five offensive Coordinators, and four Defensive Coordinators. These changes do not include other assistant coaching changes on both teams, but these two are the closest to the head coach, and this constant rotation in Coaches is a testament to Nick Saban’s mentality.
No one knows how well Clemson would do with a rotation like Alabama’s, but the fact Alabama does this in the SEC and still competes for Titles at the same pace as Clemson might just give the nod to the Tide.