Dabo Swinney Doesn’t Think Ohio State Should Be a CFB Playoff Team

The debates are starting to crank back up, and no, I’m not talking about political debates. I mean those annual, end-of-the-year college football debates about who should or shouldn’t get into the College Football Playoff.

Fans, players, talking heads and even head coaches all like to get involved. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is one of the latest to throw out an opinion.

On Thursday, Swinney joined the The Rich Eisen Show and was asked about the current Playoff race. He offered up a take that has gained traction. Swinney believes that a second ACC or SEC team should make it in over a possible 6-0 Ohio State.

“Obviously, that’s a tough question to answer in my position because we feel like we’re definitely one of the best four teams in the country, and there’s nothing that’s going to happen in that game next week for Clemson or Notre Dame that’s going to change that, in my opinion. And that’s based on data. It’s almost like you’ve got to have 120 hours to get a business degree, and yet these people over here only need 60 hours to get a business degree.

“I think any time you step in between the lines, the game of football, there’s a lot that can happen — a lot. I mean, heck, in 2017, we lost to a three-win or four-win Syracuse team and still went to the Playoffs. So anything can happen. Guys can get hurt. There’s a lot. So I think the fact that we’re going to have 11 games as well as the SEC teams – I mean, you look at Florida and Texas A&M and Alabama. I mean, these teams are going to have 11 games this year. It’s incredible

“And I think the Big Ten had the same opportunity, and they chose not to play. And I think the only reason they ended up playing is because of the leadership of the SEC and the ACC and the Big 12, and have demonstrated that we can do it and do it in a safe way. So it’s been an unbelievably challenging season, that’s for sure, but I think that the committee’s going to have some tough, tough, tough questions to answer and things like that, regardless of what they do.

“Obviously, as coaches, we don’t control any of that stuff. So I do think that our team has played incredibly well. We had a double-overtime loss at the No. 2 team in the country now in Notre Dame, who’s a great team and an unbelievable game. Again, no matter what happens for Notre Dame or Clemson, nothing changes in my mind, as far as both of these teams being in the top four.”

Eisen followed up Swinney’s response by acknowledging that Clemson would have an understandable gripe if a team which has played half as many games makes it in over them.

He then asked the two-time champion head coach if he would still have a problem with Ohio State getting in if the Tigers were also included as one of the four teams. Here’s the response from Swinney:

“I wouldn’t have an issue with it because, again, it’s not my position to have an issue with it. My position is to coach my team, regardless of whoever. I just think there has to be some type of standard. If I was on the committee, it would be hard for me to leave out a 10-1 Texas A&M or an 11-game Florida team over a team that has played six games. That would be hard for me if I was on a committee, but I’m not on the committee. So, it doesn’t really matter.

“It doesn’t mean they’re not a great team and couldn’t win the whole thing. I just think that there has to be … I just think, from a big-picture standpoint, I would lean toward rewarding the teams that have been all in because it’s been an incredible challenge.”

This point has been raised by a lot of people, and it’s a valid one. The Big Ten chose to walk its own path. Canceling the season, bringing it back later and then having the impractical 21-day quarantine window all but ruined any chances the conference had of making the CFP.


Except, it hasn’t. Ohio State still has a realistic chance of getting in.

Participating in half the number of games also means cutting the risk of a loss in half. Because they’ve played so few games, the Buckeyes have also limited the physical toll of a grueling season, which certainly helps.

Is Ohio State one of the best four teams in the country? Probably. But if they don’t make it into the Playoff, they shouldn’t blame the committee. They should point that blame towards the Big Ten.

Here is the entire video of Swinney’s interview with Rich Eisen.

Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

Written by Clint Lamb

Clint Lamb is a College Football Writer for OutKick. Managing Editor for Roll Tide Wire. Sports radio host for The Bullpen on 730/103.9 The UMP. Co-host for The 'Bama Beat podcast through The Tuscaloosa News and TideSports.com.


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  1. He’s right. You shouldn’t be able to play half a season, against a garbage resume, and get in. What if Florida or Clemson got to play half a season, and didn’t play A&M/ND? They’d be undefeated. We have no idea what would happen to OSU in a full season. And if the argument is that they’d mow down everybody in their path – more evidence that their resume is crap. because you want to talk about eye test? well I haven’t heard a single soul that thinks this year’s OSU team is as good as last year’s team. And they are not being challenged. The Big Ten SUCKS this year, and so does OSU’s body of work.

  2. Holy crap Batman,

    I can’t believe I am actually agreeing with Dabo about anything, but he is 100% correct.

    If Ohio State is put in the playoff, then there is literally NO reason to play a single regular season game. Just go ahead and announce the Playoff selection before the pre-season polls even come out. Or maybe just permanently appoint Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma to the playoff until the end of time. No other teams need apply, regardless of schedule, record, or Heisman candidate.

    If you want an “eye test,” go the DMV instead.

  3. The fact that Ohio State played only 5 games is not their fault. Yes, they had to cancel the Illinois game, but the Maryland and Michigan games were canceled by their schools. Ohio State is obviously the class of the Big 10 East, and if they beat Northwestern next week they will be a deserving Big 10 Champion. It’s all about passing the Eye test, and it’s obvious that the Buckeyes are one of the best teams in the nation. I’m sure Ohio State is itching for a rematch with Clemson, and Dabo’s comments will be bulletin board material in Columbus. But first, Clemson will have to get past Notre Dame. The committee might have a decision putting a school with two losses against one of the playoff teams in ahead of a Texas A&M. Clint, me thinks you wear your Crimson on your sleeve!

  4. First, while I cheer for The Ohio State University (no, I didn’t go there and never even lived in Ohio), Dabo has a point. I’d love to see an Ohio State – Clemson game.

    That said, Dabo is a dick; and, with the possible exception of Jim Harbaugh, the most annoying person in sports. As Paul Feinbaum recently said: “Dabo… just shut up.”:

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