Dabo Swinney has had enough with all “the SEC is so much harder” talk.
Clemson’s head coach finally let it fly when he spoke with ESPN’s Chris Low in a Wednesday afternoon article on ESPN.com. Swinney said he is not one to carry the banner for the Atlantic Coast Conference and he is never going to say, “my conference is better than yours,” but he isn’t going to just sit back and let people criticize his team or the conference either.
“I keep hearing that Alabama was worn down by this gauntlet they went through,” Swinney said to Low. “I’m like, ‘What game did they get challenged in?’ And the response is, ‘They played in the SEC.’ Well, we played Alabama, Texas A&M and South Carolina, three SEC teams, and one of our toughest games was Syracuse. Our quarterback got hurt in that game, and we found a way to win. That (Clemson) team last year was a dominant team, and it’s just fascinating to me to see all the stuff out there.”
Swinney’s message was primarily targeted at those in the SEC media that have been making excuses for Alabama since the Tigers beat them by 28 points, 44-16, in last year’s national championship game.
“My thing on that is, ‘Are you serious? They’re tired?’ Then you look at Clemson, and we won 12 games by 20-plus. Who really challenged Alabama in the SEC? They didn’t get challenged by anybody until the Georgia game [for the SEC championship],” Swinney said.
Clemson actually won 13 of its 15 games by 20 or more points. But Swinney was right, Alabama won its first 12 games—the entire regular season—in blowout fashion. The Tide won those games by an average of 35.3 points.
In their eight SEC regular season games, they won by an average of 32.6 points per game. Its closest game was a 22-point win over Texas A&M.
As for the Tigers, they won their eight ACC regular season games by an average of 35.6 points per game. However, Syracuse gave them a scare at Death Valley. Clemson won that game, without starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence, by 4 points. That was also the same week Kelly Bryant left the team.
In all, Clemson won its 12 regular season games by an average of 31.6 points per game, including a 2-point win at Texas A&M and a 21-point win against rival South Carolina.
“Listen, the SEC is a great conference, but I don’t think they’ve been as deep the last few years,” Swinney said to Low. “I think they’ve had two or three really good teams and then it’s kind of been hit or miss from there. It’s an awesome league, for sure, and I know people say that Alabama was tired because they went through the grind and had to play all these teams. Well, they won by an average of (35.3) points per game (going into the playoff), so they ought to be well-rested.”