Dabo Swinney vs. Nick Saban has been an offseason favorite topic since Swinney captured his first national title against the very man in comparison.
USA Today's Sooners Wire compiled a list of the top five head coaches heading into the 2021 season, and Saban was rated just one higher than Swinney, who finished second on the list. Behind Swinney ranked Notre Dame's Brian Kelly at No. 5, Ohio State's Ryan Day at No. 4, and Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley finishing in third place.
Saban has been at the helm of the Tide since 2007, just two seasons before Swinney became the Tigers' full-time head coach. Saban owns a national championship win with LSU before going pro coaching with the Miami Dolphins, his last position before creating the well-known dynasty at Alabama.
"No. 1 is not up for debate," Sooners Wire's Brianna Dix wrote. "(Saban) is known as the greatest college football coach of all time. Saban sets the standard of excellence for every other team to try and emulate. In arguably the toughest division in football, his teams consistently land atop the SEC hierarchy.
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"With unparalleled player development and tremendous recruiting, he has guided the Crimson Tide to seven National Titles and nine SEC Championships. After that winning resume, he still demands perfection and succeeds. In other words, Saban is the G.O.A.T. His impact on the game cannot be measured or fully understood."
Saban's longevity certainly can be held over Swinney's head. Still, as Saban inches closer to retirement with each passing season, Swinney's chances of building something greater at Clemson seem likely when both are finally out of the coaching business.
Swinney owns a 2-1 record against Saban in national title games, with the loss coming in his first championship game in 2015, and is 2-2 all-time against Saban in the College Football Playoff with a second loss in the semi-final under quarterback Kelly Bryant. The dominance of these two programs, in particular, birthed the expansion talks of the Playoff Committee just last week, with a 12 team tournament in the works with a potential start after the 2023 regular season.
With the original four-team playoffs not going anywhere until then, the attention and talent within both these programs suggest another playoff meeting is inevitable while the current bracket continues.
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