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  • Alabama felt the wrath of the Drake Curse the last time it played Clemson. Are the Tigers next after Dabo Swinney's trip to a Raptors game? Plus, future College Football Playoff sites, scheduling practices and the rest of this week's #DearAndy mailbag.
By Andy Staples
May 08, 2019

One of college football’s best programs may have just been attacked by dark forces, and you have questions…

From iceberg1914: Can Dabo and Clemson overcome the Drake curse?

This is a fascinating question, because I’m not sure Clemson has actually been cursed here. But first, let’s get those who don’t listen to hip-hop up to speed.

Drake is a rapper who started his career as an actor on a teen soap opera in his native Canada. He is one of a select few rappers in the game today who can string two sentences together, and this has allowed him to dominate the industry and get very rich. Drake is a huge sports fan, but like country singer Kenny Chesney—who never met a jersey he wouldn’t wear while singing knockoff Jimmy Buffett tunes—Drake tends to ride bandwagons a lot. While there has been no established link between Chesney and athletic failure, several of Drake’s adopted teams/athletes have crashed and burned shortly after Drake’s declaration of love for them.

In 2014, Drake released a song called “Draft Day” and dedicated it to pal Johnny Manziel. We all know how Manziel’s NFL career went. Meanwhile, Drake has spent the past several years supporting coach John Calipari and the Kentucky basketball team. The Wildcats, despite having the most talented team in America on several occasions, haven’t won a national title since 2012 (before Drake pledged his allegiance). Coincidence? 

Last year, Connor McGregor brought out Drake for the weigh-in prior to McGregor’s fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. What happened at the fight? McGregor tapped out in the fourth round.

Then came this on Jan. 2.

We all know what happened five days later. Alabama got smashed by Clemson in the national title game. Immediately afterward, former Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders—who now works as an MMA fighter—issued this warning.

That might not be wise considering what Drake’s mere presence did to McGregor. But the point is the Drake Curse is real, and it is not to be trifled with. So did Clemson coach Dabo Swinney jinx his own team Tuesday by hanging with the curse himself?

I’m guessing he did not. The Drake Curse seems to be activated when Drake wears the gear of the team he’s cursing. Drake is not wearing any tiger paws in that photo. In fact, Swinney is wearing the T-shirt of the team Drake actually loves—his hometown Toronto Raptors. And what did the Raptors do Tuesday? They beat the Philadelphia 76ers 125–89 to take a 3–2 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

It appears the Tigers aren’t victims of the Drake Curse. As it turns out, Drake's Raptors are the beneficiaries of the Dabo Bump.

From Oscar: If your strength of schedule is ranked 25th, is it a better résumé for it to very stratified (some top-five schools and some No. 120-plus schools) or all within a narrow range (between No. 10–45) with no top-10 wins? (Assuming you go 12–0.)

If a program went 12–0—or 13–0 following a conference championship game—under these circumstances, it would make the playoff. A better question would be what would happen if that program went 12–1 or 11–1. Which type of schedule would give it a better chance of making the playoff?

Given the current selection format, I would opt for the schedule with the better top-end opponents rather than the better top-to-bottom opponents. Beating a team that might have made the playoff had you not beaten them is a sure way to get the selection committee’s attention. This also assumes that the loss comes against one of those great teams but at least one win also comes against an elite opponent. In 2016, Ohio State didn’t win the Big Ten title but made the playoff as the No. 3 seed largely on the strength of a resounding road win against eventual Big 12 champ Oklahoma. If Oklahoma wins that game, Oklahoma sails into the playoff. That win made a huge difference for the Buckeyes, but it it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison for this scenario because the Big Ten was strong that year and Ohio State had some impressive wins beyond just that Oklahoma game.

But in general, as long as the playoff format stays the way it is, it’s more important to have one or two very impressive wins than a bunch of slightly impressive ones.

From Dan: What non-traditional bowl city would you like to see the CFB championship game be held in? It seems like you enjoyed Minneapolis a few weeks ago. #DearAndy

I did enjoy Minneapolis, but I enjoy every city I visit that serves meat and beer and brown liquor. With apologies to Diamond David Lee Roth, other sportswriters throw a party. I am the party. I would enjoy a national championship game or Final Four in Starkville or Pullman—and my favorite part would be drinking the tears of the other sportswriters whining about the site.

It seems almost certain that Las Vegas will host a Final Four and a football national title game now that the NCAA has lifted its ban on championship events in states that allow wagering on single games. (The College Football Playoff doesn’t have to follow the NCAA’s lead, but since it is run by conference commissioners, it usually does.) That seems like a natural fit. But here’s a list of less traditional cities that would make great hosts for the CFP title game.

Nashville — You watched the NFL draft. Nashville absolutely is a big-event town. Somebody warn the bachelorette parties, though. 

San Antonio — Downtown is compact and walkable, just like New Orleans and Indianapolis (two future CFP title game sites). Plus, San Antonio has Carnitas Lonja.

Seattle — Santa Clara probably was a poor choice of location for the title game, but that doesn’t mean every West Coast location is bad. CenturyLink Field seems like an incredible venue, and fans of both teams in the game would love exploring one of America’s coolest and most picturesque towns.

Orlando — They’ve spruced up the old Citrus Bowl, and they’d probably have to do a little more to give it the luxury suites necessary to host a CFP title game. But the town I lived in for middle and high school has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. It’s not just Walt Disney World and Universal Studios anymore. Fans would have the choice to stay near the resorts—which have plenty of available hotel space—or in an increasingly cool downtown area.

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