Clemson's Dabo Swinney Got This One Wrong
CORAL GABLES – Dabo Swinney has lost his mind. OK, maybe not but he’s getting close. Swinney, the Clemson coach who is undoubtedly among the best in the nation, said Wednesday a national title wouldn’t be diminished if the Big Ten and Pac-12 don’t play this season.
“I think it is what it is -- four best teams and you go play,” Swinney said. “We've been one of those four for five years in a row so in my opinion, it doesn't change anything for us. We're trying to be the best Clemson we can be whoever we play every week. You try to win that game and you try to keep moving forward.”
Swinney, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the preseason coaches’ poll, is flat-out wrong.
Ohio State, a member of the Big Ten, might be the best team in the nation. They’re ranked No. 2.
Penn State, a member of the Big Ten, is No. 7.
Oregon, a member of the Pac-12, is No. 9.
Granted, the preseason Top 25 isn’t reliable in January, when the national title game is played, but at the very least Swinney must acknowledge you can’t have a legitimate national title this season without Ohio State’s participation. The Buckeyes are loaded. They’d almost certainly be one of the four best teams in the nation in December. That’s where Swinney’s argument loses legitimacy.
It’d be akin to declaring a national champion without Clemson getting a shot to compete.
Still, Swinney insists a true national champion can be named this season.
"The four best teams can go play," Swinney said. "We've been one of those four for five years in a row. So, in my opinion, it doesn't change anything for us. We're just trying to be the best Clemson we can be. Whoever you play every week, you try to win that game, you try to keep moving forward.
“We don't have any control over that stuff. And I certainly don't judge them in any way. Everybody's got to make decisions that they feel is best. If they feel like that's what best for them, then so be it."
When we get down to No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 15 Michigan, No. 17 USC, No. 18 Minnesota, No. 20 Utah and No. 23 Iowa, no, they’re probably not considered contenders for the title at this point. But each is capable of knocking off a top-rated team, which could greatly affect the national title picture.
On the flip side, if Ohio State is good enough to run the table in Big Ten, which we think is possible right now, you can’t have a legitimate national champion without the Buckeyes being a contender.
If the ACC, SEC and Big 12 compete this fall, fine.
But college football can’t have a legitimate national champion this season if Ohio State, arguably the best team in the nation, isn’t in the mix.