SAN JOSE, Calif. – Clemson and Alabama are staples in the College Football Playoff, the Tigers are in their fourth straight trip to the CFP while the Crimson Tide are in their fifth consecutive playoff.
The dominance of the two programs the last few years is very similar but the coaches leading the two teams are very different.
Second-ranked Clemson kicks off against No. 1 Alabama Monday in the CFP National Championship Game in Levi’s Stadium. It is the fourth straight year these teams have met in the post season and third title game matchup in four years.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney spoke to the media Sunday at the CFP National Championship Game Head Coaches News Conference. The two responded to questions about the similarities and differences between their programs.
To Swinney, an Alabama alum, the Crimson Tide have been the standard in college football for a while especially under Saban. With a win, Saban will tie legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s record six national titles.
“You’re talking about a program that I have a deep love and respect for, always have, always will, and a coach that’s – I mean, he’s won six National Championships and the level of consistency is a model and an aspiration for every program,” Swinney said.
Saban has the same respect for Swinney because in his eyes they are setting out to accomplish the same goals, particularly off the field.
“They do a great job of developing their players, and likewise, that’s what we try to do in our program in terms of we want to help guys be more successful in life because they were involved in the program,” Saban said. “Whether it’s through personal development, making sure they graduate, develop careers off the field, help them in career development, be the best version of themselves, see if they can have a career as a football player.”
The two coaches have very different personalities and operating styles. Swinney smiled throughout the press conference and ever cracked a few jokes. Saban on the other hand smiled on occasion but stayed rather reserved and to the script.
Their differences in personality rub off on their players, at Saturdays CFP National Championship Game Media Day it was very noticeable. By-and-large Clemson players cut up with members of the media and seemed very loose while the Crimson Tide stuck to the talking points and treated it as another business appointment.
While the two coaches are very different their dominance is one and the same. Both are undefeated and at the top of almost every statistical category. The two teams have become a staple in the postseason and the measuring stick for the rest of the nation.
Since 2011 only the Crimson Tide have had more 10-win seasons, overall wins and bowl wins than Clemson. The Tigers and Alabama are the only two No. 1s in the last 53 weeks of the AP poll and the only two teams ranked first in the last four years of CFP rankings.
Swinney knows the comparison between himself and Saban but knows when it all boils down, they are who they are.
“There are a lot of similarities, yet personality-wise maybe we’re different in how we go about certain things,” Swinney said. “But at the end of the day, I think it’s just being true to who you are,” he said.