Those people, mainly the media, just have to get off Dabo Swinney’s back.
The fourth estate of the sports world complains often and correctly about so-called coaching – that is, with many words so as not to say anything – which is the quickest way to roll our eyes to the back of our heads.
But if the Clemson coach honestly expresses his opinion of what he is inclined to do, he will be dragged over the coals.
And sometimes actions speak louder than words.
Dabo’s latest crime?
In his coaching poll, he put the state of Ohio, its undefeated opponent in the semi-finals of the Sugar Bowl College playoffs, 11th.
That’s two ones, two digits, not the old ones. We are No. 1.
How dare he
But give him credit.
He’s sticking to it, though it’s sure to show up on the Ohio State bulletin boards (and forgotten exactly a second after kick-off).
The Clemson trainer said in a radio interview that his problem is not the Buckeyes’ talent. It wasn’t even her strength of the schedule, but rather its length of the schedule.
The Buckeyes only played six games, including a gerrymandered Big 10 championship game that changed the rules to let the Buckeyes in with just five regular season games.
“It’s not that they’re not good enough,” Dabo explained. “You could beat us by two touchdowns.”
He was right about what he did – and what he said.
The state of Ohio can most certainly beat Clemson. The Buckeyes are probably that good.
But they don’t belong in the college football playoffs.
Dabo – he has a last name, but every time you can call someone a Dabo, you have to go for it. I never got a grown name either – had a problem with three teams in the CFP playing 11 games and the Buckeyes playing six.
You can argue whether Notre Dame belongs in the # 4 hole on this matter, rather than maybe Texas A&M. That’s the point that always gets the internet’s attention (and yet – Pet Peeve Alert – when it doesn’t really seems to give a usable number 4, is this somehow taken as evidence that the playoffs need to be extended?)
Even so, the Irish played a representative schedule, going 10-1 and only losing to Clemson (whom they also defeated).
Not a problem with Notre Dame.
The aggies problem should be in the state of Ohio.
Back when a season of any kind seemed tricky, I decided there would be no asterisks, whatever happened, whatever adjustments needed to be made.
But the state of Ohio is in the gray area.
Six games were enough to know the Buckeyes are talented.
Talk to a very good team from Florida about the dangers of a complete schedule. In an LSU game that could just as easily be canceled, the whims of a stray shoe may come to the fore asking to be thrown.
Ohio State has a similar history. Take 2017. The Buckeyes were raiding the Big 10 when they showed up in their ninth game of the season in Iowa and got hammered between 55 and 24.
The same goes for the next year, when the OSU went along until Purdue beat the Buckeyes 49-20 with a Pole-Ax in the eighth game of the year.
It’s been a long season. Things happen.
Could have happened this year.
We will never know.
But the fewer games you play, the less likely it is that Murphy’s Law is on the agenda.
It’s true, it’s not all Ohio State’s fault. The Buckeyes happened to be playing in the Big 10, overestimating their impact on the game when they took the main drag and announced early that they would not play due to the fall pandemic.
The Buckeyes disagreed with that decision, but you are the company that you keep.
Among the Power Five, only the Pac 10 came along like loyal pups, and the Big 10 began to pull back, eventually thinking enough to work out a tentative schedule.
Anyway, as Dabo suspects, we don’t have enough work to accommodate the Ohio state.
Here is the real question: is it fair for others to have the horse chestnuts with them?
It wouldn’t surprise anyone – except maybe Alabama – if the state of Ohio won everything.
The Buckeyes should certainly be the freshest team in the business.
Not much tread on these tires, least of all the wear and tear on the other three.
And this is 2020 where the teams don’t have the usual three or four weeks of R&R between the regular season and the postseason.
There’s one thing in golf called “protecting the field” which is to keep an eye out for the sake of your fellow players, who keeps getting miraculous lies and openings when he wanders into the trees.
It doesn’t seem right for Bama, Clemson, and Notre Dame. Yes, this disjointed season was an obstacle. But it could still be better to level the playing field.
It’s almost like getting in line for the last part of the triathlon and finding out that one of your competitors got there late and was allowed to skip the swim.
Scooter Hobbs covers the LSU
Athletics. Email him at