Jan. 8, 2010
Clemson, SC – Clemson finished 24th in the final AP college football poll released on Friday. The Tigers were 30th in poll points entering the bowl season, but jumped six spots after defeating Kentucky in the Music City Bowl, 21-13, on December 27.
“After a 2-3 start, finishing in the top 25 is a great accomplishment for this team and it showed the team’s character throughout the season,” said Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “There were a lot of questions about out team entering the season with a new head coach, a first-year offensive coordinator, two new safeties on defense, and a new quarterback to lead the offense.
“Winning the Atlantic Division for the first time, winning a bowl game and finishing in the top 25 are all accomplishments that have set a good foundation. It gives us something to build on.”
Swinney was one of just two coaches in his first full season with a program to take his team to a top 25 final ranking. Chip Kelly of Oregon, who led the Ducks to a number 11 final AP ranking, was the only other first-year coach to do it this year. Swinney was the only first year coach in the nation to take his program to a final top 25 finish without a preseason ranking.
Swinney is the third Clemson coach in history to lead the Tigers to a top 25 finish in his first full season. Charley Pell did in 1977 when he led Clemson to a 19th place finish in the final AP poll, and Ken Hatfield did it in 1990 when the Tigers finished ninth in the final AP poll.
It marked the fifth time this decade that Clemson finished in the final top 25, tied for the 18th highest figure in the nation. It was the fourth time the program finished in the AP top 25 this decade without a preseason top 25 ranking. It marked the fourth straight odd numbered year that Clemson started the year unranked, but finished in the top 25. Only Boise State has accomplished that feat more than Clemson this decade, as the Broncos have done it five times. Boston College and Oregon State have also done it four times.
Overall, it was the eighth time in history that Clemson finished in the final top 25 without a preseason ranking. The other years were 1977, 1981, 1983, 1986, 2003, 2005 and 2007.
Joining Clemson as teams that finished in the top 25 this year without a preseason ranking were Cincinnati (8th), Pittsburgh (15th), Wisconsin (16th), Miami (19th), Texas Tech (21st), Central Michigan (23rd) and West Virginia (25th).
The importance of the bowl season on the final rankings was shown when comparing Clemson and West Virginia. Clemson was 30th in poll points and West Virginia was 18th in the rankings entering the bowl games, but Clemson finished ahead of the Mountaineers in the final rankings.
Northwestern, Houston, East Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Stanford, West Virginia and Oregon State were all ranked ahead of Clemson in the pre-bowl poll, but the Tigers jumped ahead of those schools in the final rankings.
Overall, this is the 25th season Clemson has finished in the top 25.
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