‘Only God Can Orchestrate This’: Clemson Wins National Championship Against Alabama

By Nancy Flory Published on January 8, 2019

“There ain’t never been a 15-0 team!” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney gushed to reporters Monday night as confetti rained down on Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The Clemson Tigers just made history with their crushing 44-16 win over Alabama at the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The Tigers were the first Division I/FBS team to finish 15-0 since Penn in 1897, reports ESPN.

He also recognizes what a formidable opponent Alabama is. “Alabama? This is the most amazing champion ever.” He added that no team could beat Alabama if “you can’t match up in the trenches.”

But his team did match up in the trenches. “There was a lot of talk about ‘best ever’ all year long. We were never in that conversation. But tonight, there’s no doubt. First 15-0 team — to beat Notre Dame and to beat Alabama to do it. This team won 13 games by 20 points or more … led by an unbelievable group of seniors. Amazing group, and I’m just thankful to be a part of it.” 

Yes, they worked hard to get here. But other teams did as well. “There’s so many great coaches that are so deserving of a moment like this and never get the chance to experience it. To get to do it once and now to get to do it again, it’s a blessing,” said Swinney of his two championship wins.

He is blessed, indeed. In fact, the humble coach gives all the credit for Clemson’s success to God.

‘Little Old Clemson’

“I know we’re not supposed to be here. We’re just little old Clemson. And I’m not supposed to be here but we are and I am!” Swinney knows he and his team didn’t do it alone. “It’s just simply the grace of the good Lord to allow us to experience something like this. … All the credit, all the glory, goes to the good Lord.”

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Swinney said his joy comes from “focusing on Jesus, others and yourself.” And he’s not the only one on the team who’s talking like this. Clemson’s star freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence said last week that football isn’t the most important thing in his life — his faith is. It would seem that faith and football go hand in hand for this team.

‘Only God Can Do This’

“You can’t write a Hollywood script like this,” Swinney told reporters. “Only God can do this. And that’s a fact. And people may think I’m crazy … but only God can orchestrate this.”

Swinney’s message hasn’t changed over the years. He told the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) last year that he believes God honors the way they’ve done things. “I believe that with all my heart. That’s why I said what I said: ‘Only God can do this.’ We serve a big God — big, powerful — and He’s real, and I know that. To experience what I’ve experienced is surreal, but it’s comforting because I know that He is. I know He loves us. We’re imperfect people, but I know God has a plan, and I just try to live my life in a way that can hopefully be an encouragement to others.”

For now, he hopes his team can give others hope and inspiration. “Hey, if we can do it, anybody can do it.”

In fact, since Lawrence and star receiver Justyn Ross are just freshmen, other teams in the NCAAF might want to be praying for ways to stop the Tigers the next couple of years. Already, Clemson is a favorite to repeat next year.


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