From the beginning, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has made it clear he does not think a team that played just six games should qualify for the College Football Playoff.
And even though that happened, and his Tigers happen to be playing that team in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, Swinney is not backing down from his original statement.
“In my opinion, I don’t think that it’s right that three teams have to play thirteen games to win it all and one team has to play eight,” Swinney said to ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi on its College Football Scoreboard Show Saturday night. “What universe am I living in? And it has nothing to with them. It was about qualifying. And I didn’t think they were qualified, based on the number of games, versus all these other teams that in my opinion, Texas A&M, Florida, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, they got punished for playing more games.”
The team that got in over Texas A&M, Florida, Oklahoma and Cincinnati is Ohio State, which is just 6-0. Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame, the other three teams in the playoff field have all played 11 games this year.
The Buckeyes have benefited all year by the Big Ten changing its rules as it went along. The conference first postponed the season to the spring due to COVID-19 concerns, only to change it in midstream after pressure from the media, players, players’ parents, and the success the ACC, SEC and Big 12 were having.
However, with no wiggle room for games to made up in case of an outbreak, and very stringent return-to-play policies in place, the league again changed the rules to allow the Buckeyes to qualify with enough games to play for the Big Ten Championship.
Then last week the conference changed the rules of when a player can return to action after COVID-19 protocols … going from 21 days to 17 days.
Swinney took a lot of heat last week when his poll revealed he voted the Buckeyes No. 11 for the Coaches Poll.
“First of all, my vote does not mean anything. But it means something to me, you know? It’s my poll. I do it,” he said. “It creates a stir because we just so happen to be playing Ohio State. It has nothing to do with Ohio State, absolutely zero. You can change the name to Michigan or Georgia or Florida or Tennessee or Nebraska. Anytime you have a top-10, it should be that it is special. This year it’s like really, really, really special and I wanted it to be that way.
“And so, I wanted to recognize the teams that played nine games or more. So, if you didn’t play nine games, I just didn’t consider you for the top 10. That’s why they were 11.”