"That team is long gone." Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has the response set on repeat. Any time someone dares to bring up the Tigers' surprising 8-0 start last season, or their awful 2-4 finish -- which included a demoralizing 70-33 Orange Bowl beatdown by West Virginia -- Swinney pauses, looks around and calmly says it again: "Long gone."
"That was a good team but not a great team," he explains in his office as he waits for another spring practice to begin. "They were good enough to win the ACC but not good enough to go undefeated and not good enough to win a BCS bowl."
Then he curls his upper lip. "But that team is long gone."