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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.