How do Georgia and South Carolina respond to Clemson's title?
For Georgia fans, Clemson’s national championship was a maddening reminder of how the past two years have unfolded in Athens.
Remember the 2014 season opener? Todd Gurley and the Bulldogs thumped Clemson 45-21 — though Georgia native Deshaun Watson, then a true freshman, played sparingly behind Cole Stoudt.)
Then there are the fans with the long recruiting memories, who remembered Georgia’s lack of, or late, recruiting of Watson by the previous staff. But for the optimists, it was reassurance that the time for a trajectory toward a national championship is possible in that span.
After all, the recent recruiting success of Kirby Smart has given hope that landing plenty of in-state talent could be enough to hoist the championship trophy. The supply certainly is there: 28 players from Georgia were on Alabama and Clemson rosters for the national title game in Tampa, and six were starters.
For South Carolina, Will Muschamp didn’t waste any time. Moments after the game, Muschamp sent a text to his players: “Game on,” the Charleston Post and Courier reported.
The call to action came before defensive end Dante Sawyer tweeted something akin to a shrug of the shoulders.
today just another day
— Dante Sawyer (@BuzzSawww) January 10, 2017
The University of South Carolina’s official account tweeted a distraction the day after the championship.
— U of South Carolina (@UofSC) January 10, 2017
All three schools have made it a recent priority to add facilities, including the Gamecocks’ administration, which allowed Muschamp to oversee the design of a $50 million operations center. It’s expected to break ground soon. Meanwhile Georgia is nearing completion of a $30 million indoor practice facility. Yet Clemson’s soon-to-be-revealed new facility has a price tag of $55 million and includes such perks as a nap room, barber shop, indoor slide and laser tag.
In the current recruiting class, while Clemson has four commitments from players from Georgia, including three 4-stars, regional rivals have more than held their own, both in the arms race of facilities, and in recruiting.
South Carolina has the top two recruits in the Palmetto State, according to the 247 Sports Composite, and three of the top five. Clemson, meanwhile, has just one in-state commitment: Logan Rudolph, a 4-star defensive end from Rock Hill. Georgia has three of the top five in-state recruits, and 13 of the top 20.
(Clemson, however, has commitments from the No. 1-ranked player in Indiana and the No. 2-ranked player in North Carolina and Tennessee.)
Georgia and South Carolina have proven they can compete with Clemson in recruiting and facility upgrades. The difference for the soon-to-be second-year coaches is how to develop those highly touted recruits and deliver a roster of talented upperclassmen that has the kind of chemistry that brought Clemson to Tampa — and the top of the college football world.