Clemson Football

Dabo Swinney challenges SEC grind: "Who really challenged Alabama in the SEC?"

August 9, 2019
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It’s August, football season is less than three weeks away, and yet Dabo Swinney is still getting asked about what transpired in Santa Clara, Calif. On Jan. 9.

And rightfully so. Since Clemson demolished Alabama 44-16 for its second title in three years, the college football world has been shaken up. There are many out there who have attempted to diminish the accomplishments of the first 15-0 team in the modern era of college football.

Just when we thought “talking season” was over.

Swinney doesn’t want to hear the excuses anymore. In a recent interview with ESPN’s Senior Staff Writer Chris Low, the head coach argued against the narrative that Alabama wasn’t as rested as the Tigers when the two met in January.

"My thing on that is, 'Are you serious? They're tired?' Then you look at Clemson, and we won 12 games by 20-plus. Who really challenged Alabama in the SEC? They didn't get challenged by anybody until the Georgia game [for the SEC championship]."
- Dabo Swinney

"Listen, the SEC is a great conference, but I don't think they've been as deep the last few years,” Swinney told ESPN. “I think they've had two or three really good teams and then it's kind of been hit or miss from there. It's an awesome league, for sure, and I know people say that Alabama was tired because they went through the grind and had to play all these teams. Well, they won by an average of 33.1 points per game [going into the playoff], so they ought to be well-rested.

"My thing on that is, 'Are you serious? They're tired?' Then you look at Clemson, and we won 12 games by 20-plus. Who really challenged Alabama in the SEC? They didn't get challenged by anybody until the Georgia game [for the SEC championship]."

According to Warren Nolan, Clemson was ranked No. 1 in strength of schedule in 2018 with an opponent winning percentage of 67.8 percent. Alabama was ranked No. 4 using the same metrics.

The Tigers and the Tide went toe-to-toe both boasting a 14-0 record. Swinney went on to say that Clemson played three SEC teams that season (Texas A&M, South Carolina, and Alabama) and won them all. Clemson ran away with the national championship after easily beating Notre Dame and Alabama by a combined score of 55 points.

Swinney continued: "People get amnesia. A lot of folks make a lot of bold claims early in the year and then they forget, and there's a lot of excuses when it doesn't go that way. Five, six or seven years ago, the rhetoric was that an ACC team is not going to win a national championship because they don't play anybody during the season, so then they get to the postseason and are just not prepared for the big, bad boys.

© Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Dabo Swinney has defeated Nick Saban in two out of three meetings in the National Championship.

"Well, now, they've flipped it around, and the only reason we're winning is because we don't play anybody in the ACC. ... You don't just come out of a soft conference and haven't played anybody, and all of a sudden go out and beat Notre Dame and Alabama. I mean, give me a break. Now that happens in other conferences. I've seen that, people that get propped up, and then I watch the tape and go, 'They ain't played what we've played.'"

Swinney shared that same view a couple of weeks ago at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte.

At this point, you aren’t changing any minds when it comes to what happened way back in January. The two best teams in the country met for the fourth year in a row and the better team came out on top.

Swinney is just tired of hearing the excuses. And frankly, we’re surprised he’s still listening.

Discussion from...

Dabo Swinney challenges SEC grind: "Who really challenged Alabama in the SEC?"

CLEMSON.81.16.18
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The only team that challenged Bama in the regular season was The Citadel! They went into the half tied 10-10. The only regular season game Bama was not up!
UTFerg
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Everytime Clemson has been offered to come to the SEC, they declined. Why go to a conference that would challenge then week in and week out? They know their players would get beat up in SEC games. While they will win a lot of the games, they will NOT be healthy for bowl games. Quit talking $#! and go to the SEC...
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