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Barry Jacobs - For Clemson, Winning Is Rare

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Brad Brownell certainly knew what he was getting into when he left Wright State and took the head coaching job at Clemson. Then again, he was a bit surprised to learn how seldom the Tigers had managed to post 20-win seasons - on average, less than once every five years since the ACC started play in 1953-54.

20-Win Seasons by Clemson as ACC Member
(Listed by Total Wins)
W-L W Pct. Year ACC Finish ACC ACC Trn. NCAA NIT Coach
26-9 .743 1990 first 10-4 1-1 2-1 --- Cliff Ellis
25-6 .806 1987 second 10-4 0-1 0-1 --- Cliff Ellis
25-11 .694 2007 eighth (tie) 7-9 0-1 --- 0-1 Oliver Purnell
24-10 .706 2008 third 10-6 2-1 0-1 --- Oliver Purnell
23-9 .719 2009 fifth (tie) 9-7 0-1 0-1 --- Oliver Purnell
23-9 .719 1980 fourth 8-6 1-1 3-1 --- Bill Foster
23-10 .697 1997 fourth (tie) 9-7 0-1 2-1 --- Rick Barnes
22-6 .786 1977 second (tie) 8-4 1-1 --- --- Bill Foster
21-11 .656 2010 fifth (tie) 9-7 0-1 0-1 --- Oliver Purnell
20-11 .645 1981 fifth (tie) 6-8 0-1 --- 0-1 Bill Foster
20-15 .571 1999 seventh (tie) 5-11 0-1 --- 4-1 Larry Shyatt

To lend perspective, Florida State, hardily a league power, has been in the ACC since the '92 season and already has seven 20-win seasons to its credit. Georgia Tech, which joined the ACC in 1980, more than a quarter-century after Clemson, has 11 seasons with 20 or more victories.

Brownell also discovered that, for all the gripes about Oliver Purnell's failures in NCAA competition, his immediate predecessor will be a tough act to follow. Purnell managed four of the 11 20-victory marks in Clemson's ACC history, all in the past four seasons, the best such run ever at the school.

Brownell was fortunate to inherit a solid portion of talent from Purnell: starters Jerai Grant, Devin Booker, Demontez Stitt, Tanner Smith, and Andre Young. (Smith suffered a sprained right knee in Clemson’s habitual loss at Chapel Hill the other night. He’ll miss at least one game. The first half injury to the 6-5 wing cost the Tigers crucial size in an area where the Tar Heels have numerous options.)

This is a particularly propitious moment to debut on the ACC coaching stage, given that the conference is hardly as formidable as is usually the case. That relative weakness may be news to struggling Jeff Bzdelik at Wake Forest, but those of us who've watched the league on a regular basis know a below-average ACC when we see it.

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