Which head coach's legacy improves more with a win in the national championship: Alabama's Nick Saban or Clemson's Dabo Swinney?
Andy Staples: Clemson's Dabo Swinney
Dabo Swinney's legacy would improve more with a win, because he doesn’t have a national title yet. Even if Nick Saban never ties Bear Bryant, he’d still be considered one of the best college football coaches ever (if not the best). A win would put Swinney into an exclusive club to which Saban already belongs.
Pete Thamel: Swinney
There’s a strong argument that Nick Saban looms as the greatest coach in college football history. Another national title would certainly cement that status. With back-to-back national title game appearances, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is on the cusp of being mentioned with this generation’s elite coaches. Becoming the fifth active coach to win a title would put him in elite company with Saban, Bob Stoops, Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher. That’s why Dabo’s legacy would improve more.
Lindsay Schnell: Swinney
It has to be Dabo's because win or lose, people will still talk about Saban in "greatest ever?" conversations. Dabo, on the other hand, is right on the brink. Beating what some are hailing as the greatest defense of all time, or at least one of the greatest in recent memory, is the type of line you put at the top of your résumé. And Dabo is still pretty young (47) so this could be the first of a few titles.
Brian Hamilton: Swinney
Well, Nick Saban has won five national championships. Swinney has won five fewer than his counterpart at Alabama. This pretty much ends the discussion. Even though that sixth career title would tie Bear Bryant, Saban's status among alltime greats is fairly firmly established. Swinney still needs to get over the hump, and doing so against the master would be a colossal statement.
Joan Niesen: Swinney
Dabo is the clear answer here to me. A win would give Saban his sixth national championship, tying him with Bear Bryant. That would certainly enhance his legacy, but only incrementally. We already know he's a living legend. For Dabo, a title would be more than an incremental boost. His first championship would put him among a completely different tier of coaches.