Tigers Ranked No. 5 in First College Football Playoff Ranking
The first College Football Playoff rankings were released tonight and much to the chagrin fanbase, the Clemson Tigers are out of the top four—coming in at No. 5 .
The Tigers' schedule has been the reason for some of the discussion surrounding the defending champions.
"I think that has as much to do with the perception on the outside that they early in the year were struggling," ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said. "Having a close call against North Carolina did not help the perception even though that was one of those Saturdays when you just don't have the fastball working and you just try to get out with a win. To their credit they did. I think the other thing that hurts them right now is they just haven't necessarily played big time opponents, while others around them have. I think that hurts them a little bit."
However, head coach Dabo Swinney believes that the rhetoric surrounding his team's schedule is completely unfounded.
"I know the rhetoric out there yet then we go win in the postseason and then they start that same story the next year," Swinney said. "I don't really worry about it too much. We play eight conference games and two SEC teams and another D1 and an FCS school here.
"We have played about everybody. We have played the Oklahomas the Ohio States, the LSUs, Alabama, Notre Dame. We have played all kind of people. We have played Auburn a bunch, Texas A&M. We played Georgia so we love playing whoever. And sometimes the schedules they get set way out in advance. Sometimes you never know. We don't have any control over how that team is that year. You just don't know. You can only focus on your program. Sometimes you may have a good game scheduled but that team isn't any good that year."
For Herbstreit, even though the defending champions are not No. 1 in the committee's eyes, he believes that the Tigers still control their destiny.
"But at the end of the day if I am a Clemson fan the cool thing about this playoff is you control your own destiny," Herbstreit said. "If they win their games, they get to Charlotte and they win whatever poor sole shows up there in Charlotte that night they are going to finish 13-0 and they are going to be in the top four. Whether you are one, two, three or four Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers are going to be in the top four.
" And all you want is that ticket punched and permission to enter and they will have that if they keep winning. So if your a Clemson fan don't worry. You are going to get your chance to prove who you are because they are going to be in the top four in December."