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Syracuse vs. Clemson: #DISRESPEKT is dead, long live #DISRESPEKT

Clemson can no longer play the disrespect card. But in college football, there are no constants.

North Carolina State v Clemson Photo by Todd Bennett/Getty Images

Syracuse visits Clemson's Death Valley on Nov. 5 and will once again get drilled. And I mean by a huge margin.

Oh well, the Tigers continue to win and are now one of the Top 5 programs in the country by any standard of measure one chooses. If they beat Florida State and handle the ACC Championship game, it'll be off to the playoffs again. There would be no team there that Clemson wouldn't be able to knock off, and that includes 'Bama.

As for the 'Cuse, Babers would be wise to start figuring out how to get a defense because without it the Orange will continue to lose. Having said that, I understand he's trying to add some excitement to the program in order to put more fannies in the seats.

That was our good friend James Slater writing in to Bud Poliquin in the beginning of October. Slater has been firing off missives to Poliquin ever since Syracuse joined the ACC and his staunch “Clemson Rules, Everyone Else Drools” platform was the bedrock from which we built our understanding of the Clemson Tigers.

It was, as we came to learn, not an isolated incident. Many Clemson fans played the DISRESPEKT card so hard that it became a running joke not just amongst Syracuse fans but college football fans everywhere. ESPN was always out to get them! Sports Radio was out to get them! The polls were out to get them! All the while Dabo was changing Clemson from a very good program into one of the nation’s best. And all the while as they won they shouted “Nobody believes in us!” Whether or not there were as many doubters out there as Clemson claimed, that’s irrelevant. The #DISRESPEKT mantra worked for the Tigers as they ascended to the top of the mountain (Well, almost).

Now in 2016, Clemson is No. 3 in the nation and controls their own destiny en route to a second-consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff. So far they’ve proven themselves the class of the ACC and a worthy “Who Wants To Lose To Alabama?” challenger. Like last year, Clemson was expected to be among the best and they have met those expectations.

The only difference now is that disrespect, even faux disrespect, is dead and buried. Clemson isn’t shaggy Jon Snow coming to claim the Iron Throne anymore. They’re Khaleesi, with her dragons and millions of soldiers in tow. That Jon Snow guy is an underdog. The lady who commands flying, fire-breathing monsters is not.

James Slater aside, you can sense that Clemson understands the days of #DISRESPEKT are over (at least until Alabama is favored by eight points in the title game). They haven’t been “the underdog” for years but now there’s no denying it. No hiding from their status as one of the best programs in the nation. They’ve earned it and they should be proud, but you know what they say about pride...

I have no expectations that Syracuse is going to waltz into Death Valley and come away with a win. Hell, our own coach doesn’t even expect it. But Clemson and their fans are going to have to face the new normal from here on out. Like Florida State before them, they are the unquestioned best team in the conference. Like Florida State before them, they look unstoppable. Like Florida State before them, they’re expected to win every regular season game and anything short of that is failure.

But the flip side to that is...Florida State. The Jameis Winston years already feel like a decade ago. In just a few quick seasons they’ve gone from college football royalty to lower in the division standings than Syracuse and Wake Forest. Sometimes when the mighty fall, they fall fast and they fall hard.

I say that not as a warning or some kind of intimidation tactic. I say it as a reminder that the #DISRESPEKT is over, but in college football that feeling only lasts for so long.