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    Dabo Swinney: The best is yet to come for Clemson


    TAMPA — Six seconds left, ball at the 2-yard line, trailing by three points, what do you do? Dabo Swinney said there was never a doubt.

    “We were playing to try to win the game,” he said.

    You know what happened. After a sleepless night — Swinney and apparently most of the Clemson Tigers partied until dawn — it was still hard to process on Tuesday. But a 35-31 victory against Alabama and the school’s first national championship since 1981 came when Deshaun Watson rolled right and found receiver Hunter Renfrow in the front corner of the end zone, leaving 1 second on the clock.

    What if there had been five seconds, Dabo? With a timeout in his pocket, he’d have done the same thing. “I felt like it was going to be a four-second play,” he said. “It’s going to be in and out.”

    With less time, Swinney said he‘d have kicked the field goal and headed for overtime. It sounds great. But suppose Watson had hesitated an instant, then misfired — and time had run out?

    It’s fitting, perhaps, that Clemson won its championship with a calculated risk. That’s what the school took eight years ago, when then-athletic director Terry Don Phillips first promoted Swinney from receivers coach to replace Tommy Bowden on an interim basis, and especially when a few weeks later he removed the interim tag.

    “It’s been an unbelievable journey,” Swinney said. “I laid out a vision eight years ago and said, hey, we needed…

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