Lost in the changeover from the BCS to a four-team playoff was the ACC's final act: dueling wins in Miami and Pasadena for a National and Orange Bowl title. They were 2-13 in such contests going in.
Asked if the change in fortune was going to change the conversation nationally - Dabo Swinney turned the question back around.
"That depends on y'all and what y'all write - ESPN and all that stuff," Swinney said. "We just keep doing what we're doing. I'm really proud of our conference. I think we won every major college award in this conference. I think we're doing alright."
Indeed, the conference cleaned-up on the individual level as well with the Heisman (FSU QB Jameis Winston), Walter Camp (Winston), Dave O'Brien (Winston), Doak Walker (BC RB Andre Williams), Bednarik (Pitt DT Aaron Donald), Outland (Donald), Rimington (FSU C Bryan Stork) and Lou Groza (FSU K Roberto Aguayo) winners - and had All-Americans not in the group like Clemson's Sammy Watkins.
While he ACC cheer-leads at times, Swinney also maintains Clemson's brand as strong by itself.
"We just sell Clemson," he said, going into his sixth full season as the Tigers' coach. "As I say all the time, it's not about our conference. It's about our program. It's about what a young person's opportunity is within your program. The people in your program and how you do it.
"Some people want to sell a league - that's the best thing they've got to sell. Well, if that's the best thing they've got to sell - that's what they've got to do. But man we've got all kinds of good things to sell here."
That wasn't exactly the case when he took over midway through 2008 - a program that was top-10 preseason, but stumbled to a 7-6 record. After a C.J. Spiller-led ACC title game run in '09, they fell to sub-.500 in 2010 (6-7).
Three years later, Clemson has an ACC title and eight top-25 wins (Coaches/AP), bookending both 2012 and 2013 with them.
"Five years ago, talk is one thing," Swinney said. "When you've done some things - it helps, no doubt. Our brand is totally different from five years ago. People are either talking good or talking bad about Clemson, but they're talking about Clemson. Our brand is really, really powerful right now. That's a result of a lot of success."
He says that's been working "hand-in-hand" on the recruiting trail to set the Tigers up moving forward.
"We have an elite program and top-10 program that's winning as consistently as anybody in the country on and off the field," Swinney said. "We don't take a backseat to anybody as far as recruiting. The thing about Clemson that makes it neat is it really attracts a certain kind of guy.
"We have a very unique situation here. If you're passionate about it and know this place and we stay committed - we can recruit the best of the best every single year."