Dabo Swinney caused quite the stir when his final Coaches Poll ballot was made public and people found out he had ranked Ohio State at No. 11. But Clemson’s head coach isn’t worried about what people think.
It was his poll, and Swinney simply did not think it was right to rank a Buckeyes team that has played only six games to this point ahead of other teams that have played several more games this season.
“People can perceive and take things however they want,” Swinney said on Monday during his press conference previewing Clemson’s upcoming game against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl semifinal.
“But for me, every year, I take (voting for the Coaches Poll) seriously, but especially this year. I just don’t think it’s right. It’s not that they’re not good enough – I just don’t think it’s right that three teams have to play 13 games to be the champion and one team has to play eight. So, people have a problem with that, I don’t really care. It’s my poll.”
Swinney reiterated he did not rank any team that played fewer than nine games in his top 10.
“And then after that, I said OK, anybody who played at all, that’s how I’ll rank that group, and that’s why they were 11,” he explained. “I mean, I have all the respect in the world for Ohio State. For people not to think that, I can’t do anything about that. I think the world of (Ohio State head coach) Ryan Day. We’ve talked many times. They’re a wonderful program. We recruit against them because I think we have a lot of similarities in how we go about our business. So, there’s really nothing to it.”
Swinney was well aware that when the College Football Playoff committee released its final rankings on Dec. 20, he could see his Clemson squad matched up against Ohio State in the playoff, and of course that turned out to be the case as the second-seeded Tigers will square off with the No. 3 Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on New Year’s Day.
But a potential meeting with Ohio State did not factor into Swinney’s thinking when he cast his Coaches Poll ballot.
“You don’t think I know that’s going to be public?” Swinney said. “But to me, right is right. It’s not always easy to do the right thing.”
Swinney knew when his Coaches Poll ballot was released, he wouldn’t be liked by a lot of people in the Buckeye State. However, that wasn’t a concern of his.
“I absolutely knew that I would be the poster child for whatever,” he said. “Now I could probably run for governor in Michigan, might have a good chance. But probably not very popular in Ohio. But listen, I don’t live my life that way. I’m not going to say well, let me put them here and do something that I absolutely don’t believe in.”
Clemson is currently a 7.5-point favorite to win the Sugar Bowl, though Swinney reemphasized he has no shortage of respect for Ohio State and believes the Buckeyes have plenty enough talent to beat his Tigers this Friday and then go on to win the national title.
“Again, it’s not that they’re not good enough,” Swinney said. “They could beat us by two touchdowns. They’re plenty good enough to beat us. They’re good enough to win it all. I just had a problem with the fact that three teams have to play 13 games and one has to play eight, and I don’t care what the name is. Change the name – Ohio State, whoever, fill in the blank – Penn State, Michigan, Southern Cal. I don’t really care.
“That just was my standard that I’ve put in place, and I wasn’t going to change that because of being politically correct and trying to appease people. It is what it is.”
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