Sports Today: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney boasts he knew Ohio State was ‘in trouble’ in Fiesta Bowl

Aug 08, 2017
  • By Marcus Hartman
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers greets head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes after the Clemson Tigers defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 31-0 to win the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 31, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

College football games are just around the corner, and Dabo Swinney is already politickin’. 

And good for him*. 

It’s the responsible thing for a college football coach to do in a CFB world still influenced by public opinion as much as anything else. 

Swinney told WCCP (a radio station in South Carolina) his Tigers’ thrashing of Ohio State was thanks in no small part to the rigors of their ACC schedule: 

“That’s another reason why we’ve been so successful,” he told host Walt Deptula. “Nobody wants to talk about that. Go back to last year. We're trying to figure out a way to put four Big Ten teams in the playoff. And let me tell you, if they’d have figured it out, they’d have done it. I didn't pay no attention to the Big Ten. You just kind of buy it, right?

“That's just what's out there. And then we get ready to play Ohio State and I start watching the tape, I watch every single game, and I go in and tell our guys. I’m like, 'Boys, these guys are in trouble.' I mean, I've watched the whole league. I've gone through the whole league both sides. These guys are in trouble. And that's exactly what happened. Again, that’s a credit to our league.”

Is there some revisionist history here? Perhaps, but the winner’s get to write history most of the time. 

I would also like to know if he was referring more to personnel, game plans or competitive toughness. 

I always thought a lack of that last one hurt Ohio State after it marched through the weak Big Ten in 2006 and ’07 only to be humbled by SEC teams in the national championship. 

The gauntlet the 2002 team faced on the field probably made a big difference in pulling out that epic Fiesta Bowl against Miami, too, but I don’t think it was necessarily an issue last season. 

SBNation’s advanced stats show the ACC and SEC being stronger than the Big Ten last season.

Ohio State had its share of tests, but the Buckeyes had a tendency to leave the impression they weren’t maximizing their talent, either. 

I thought Clemson would win by about a field goal because the Tigers were a little better overall and had the more talented quarterback. 

(It’s worth noting the Tigers also seemed to go through most of the season in a general malaise after making the title game the year before.) 

The game turned out not to be close because Ohio State had a terrible game plan on offense, choosing to emphasize the things it did worst rather than what it did well. 

Talent, I would guess, was about equal, but it wasn’t entirely shocking to see Ohio State try to do the wrong thing on offense. That’s what the Buckeyes did all year, so it’s not hard for me to imagine Swinney watching the putrid game plans Ed Warinner kept throwing out there, seeing they were getting by on superior talent in the Big Ten and concluding that would not work against his team. 

It’s no coincidence Urban Meyer has a new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach this year after the debacle in the dessert capped two years of frustration on that side of the ball. 

Kevin Wilson should be a major upgrade over just about any offensive coordinator in the country, so it’s going to be fascinating to see what changes he has made to the Buckeyes attack. 

Of course, we might not be able to be sure how effective they truly are until January… 

*The reason I say, “Good for him,” is the Big Ten’s perceived strength outgrowing its actual strength is thanks in no small part to the good vibes generated by the hirings of Jim Harbaugh and James Franklin. 

At least one of them has a conference championship now, but their impacts were proclaimed by some before they actually happened. 

Again, that’s a fairly common occurrence in college football, but it’s worth repeating... 

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Meanwhile, the young defensive backs in the crosshairs at Bengals training camp continue to impress practice observers. 

Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson could really change the face of the defense if they both prove to be ready to carry a big load this season. 

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Meanwhile, another first-round cornerback has confidence the Bengals will bounce back in a big way this fall. 

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There was some potential bad news, though, as C.J. Uzomah was injured.