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Clemson Football

Ryan McGee on Clemson: "everyone understands what is being built there"

August 14, 2019
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The clock is winding down to the start of the 2019 college football season. We’re 15 days away from the Tigers season kickoff against Georgia Tech in Death Valley. There is a new excitement that surrounds Clemson because, for the first time, the Tigers are ranked No. 1 heading into the season. The Tigers received 59 of the 65 first-place votes in the Coaches Poll and will start at the top for the first time in their history.

To get the pulse on the Tigers from a local who’s gone national, we caught up with Ryan McGee. McGee, a Traveler’s Rest native, and senior writer at ESPN sat down with ClemsonSportsTalk.com recently for an exclusive interview.  

“Now that Clemson has made their second run? You don't just get into a playoff every year, and not get everyone's attention. I think that everyone understands what is being built there."
- Ryan McGee

According to McGee, he sees those 59 first-place votes in the Coaches Poll as both a tip of the hat to Clemson for the season they had last year and recognizing that the Tigers might be the best team in college football. 

"They won a national championship a couple of years ago, and that was great. But I cover drag racing, and you set a speed record, you have to back it up, and you have to be within a certain percentage of what you did for that first run to count with a second run,” McGee noted.

“Now that Clemson has made their second run? You don't just get into a playoff every year, and not get everyone's attention. I think that everyone understands what is being built there," he says. "I think everyone understands their setup for the long haul and you know, you might have the best player in the country under center. This is a good time to be wearing orange." 

Giving that the Tigers are in the top spot heading into the season emphasizes the expectation on Clemson to perform well. McGee says that if Dabo Swinney’s staff continues to recruit as well as they do, "they should be used to getting a preseason No. 1 because I think that this is not the last time," he said. 

McGee who also co-hosts a radio show alongside friend and fellow ESPN reporter, Marty Smith, Marty and McGee, feels like the Tigers and Crimson Tide have separated themselves from the pack. 

“I think that there are three groups and I have said this all along. I think that there are Clemson and Alabama and there's a little gap where you put Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State and there is the gap that has everyone else,” McGee stated.

© Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Etienne breaks into the open field against Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.

“You know, I don’t think that Notre Dame will be able to do this year, what they did last year, but I think that they are finally heading in the right direction," McGee said.

"By the way, all the people that ran down the Notre Dame playoff selection, because of the way they lost in the semi-final game. Did we all see a couple of weeks later, the national championship? I think that everybody looked at Notre Dame differently, but they are so much better than they were when they got crushed by Alabama in the BCS championship game so many years ago." 

 "Those are things that I look at. But you're right; you've got to sneak in," he said. "I think that LSU has the potential to be good. But there they sit in the SEC West along with Texas A&M. But I am with you, Georgia is set for the next 15 years. I think that Georgia is going to have to buy this time though until we see cracks in saving armor." 

Switching gears a bit, we wanted the vibe from a Sandlapper’s perspective on in-state and rivalry transfer Tavien Feaster. If anyone on the national level understands Clemson vs. South Carolina, it’s McGee.

“I feel this way about transfers in general, which is, what and why you’re doing it. What is the story? You're staying in your home state, and you still got a chance to play on a team that is certainly not Clemson but has the potential to be pretty good and play on one of the biggest stages in the SEC,” McGee noted. 

“I always say that the best thing about the internet is that everyone has a voice, but the worst thing about the internet is that everyone has a voice.”
- Ryan McGee

“But, if it's a family situation, or if it's just a situation where you're not going to play or anything like that. I want to know what the circumstances are if it's just you walking out the door with two middle fingers extended," McGee said. "I've got a problem with it, and if it's not that and it's a kid with real reasons, then I don't have a problem with it."

One problem that the transfers face in the “Social Media Era” are the tweets from the fans. While many fans are complimentary, both Feaster and Kelly Bryant dealt with their fair share of posts blistering them for making a move.  

"Marty and I were out covering SEC media days, and we got to talk to Kelly Bryant about how the world your living now, you can't do anything without having to catch the flack or the praise one way or another. I always say that the best thing about the internet is that everyone has a voice, but the worst thing about the internet is that everyone has a voice. Depending on how old you are or how thin your skin is, you can either let that burn you down or you can ignore it and do what you have to do,” McGee said. 

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