Clemson beat Alabama on Monday for its first national championship since 1981, and apparently the Auburn Tigers deserve some of the credit.
Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton published a feature Tuesday on Clemson’s journey to becoming a national power. One of the things the Tigers have focused on during that process was upgrading their facilities. Auburn provided some inspiration for that.
Auburn beat out Dabo Swinney’s program for a couple of top recruits in 2013: Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams. Both mentioned housing as part of the reason why they chose Auburn, which led Clemson to engage in some low-level espionage.
And consider how swiftly Clemson worked to refurbish player accommodations at its Lightsey Bridge apartments. In ’13 the program lost out to Auburn on top 25 recruits Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson, both defensive linemen. When explaining their decisions, both players cited quality of housing. The following year Clemson’s offensive staff visited Auburn’s coaches to exchange ideas, and on a lunch break, Scott sneaked across the street to the player apartments and persuaded a resident to let him take pictures of the rooms. He shared the photos with Swinney, Turnipseed and other administrators upon returning to campus.
That June, Clemson began the first of multiple $1 million renovation projects for its own player accommodations. “The majority of places that would have that issue, it would take them five or six years to correct it,” Scott says. “There’s an alignment of power around here that has allowed us to improve ourselves very quickly. It’s no secret why we’re at where we are now.”
Those upgrades were likely part of the pitch to the 2015 recruiting class. That group included players like DT Christian Wilkins and WR Deon Cain, who became key contributors in the Tigers’ upset over the Crimson Tide.
Gus Malzahn probably won’t be thrilled to hear Clemson “stole” ideas for facility renovations from his program. Then again, if it did keep Alabama from winning another title, he and everyone else at Auburn can probably live with it.