Clemson coach Dabo Swinney ranks Ohio State No. 11 on his coaches poll ballot
When the state of Ohio needed more motivation for the college football playoff semifinals against Clemson, Dabo Swinney made it happen.
Swinney was one of 61 FBS head coaches to compete in the weekly USA Today Coaches Poll that season. Each week the coaches submit a full top 25 ballot. They are then all counted and the trainer poll comes out every Sunday.
The top 5 in the latest coaching poll reflected the College Football Playoffs selection committee's ranking: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Notre Dame, and No. 5 Texas A&M.
But things get a lot more interesting when you look at each of the ballot papers.
Swinney, who just coached Clemson to the sixth consecutive ACC title with a dominant win over Notre Dame, has one of the stranger ballot papers - especially when it comes to placing his upcoming CFP opponent. Swinney has Ohio State, the 6-0 Big Ten champion, in 11th place.
Swinney has a top 4 from Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M. You need to scroll past Florida, Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, the state of Iowa, and Coastal Carolina before you land on # 11 Buckeyes.
Yes No. 11.
No other trainer had an OSU lower than No. 6. That was Georgia's Kirby Smart. The other 59 attendees had the Buckeyes either No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, or No. 5. The most popular location for OSU was No. 3.
If you think this could be Swinney's mistake, it seems unlikely. Some trainers have been known to leave it to a SID or other staff member to fill out their ballot, but Swinney appears to be taking his very seriously.
According to Grace Raynor of The Athletic, Swinney completes his voting in person, saying a few years ago that he sometimes calls at 3 a.m.
"If I want to put my name on it, I should try to be informed," Swinney said in 2018 via Raynor.
Clemson manager Dabo Swinney signals his players in the second quarter against Notre Dame in an NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 7, 2020, in South Bend, Indiana (Matt Cashore / Pool Photo via AP).
Swinney: The CFP committee should give preference to teams that play more games
Based on Swinney's recent comments, his main problem with the Buckeyes is the fact that they have played fewer games than the other top teams in the country. The Big Ten season started much later than leagues like ACC and SEC. In addition, the OSU saw three of its regular season games being canceled due to COVID-19 issues, either on its own program or with opponents.
Swinney said on the Rich Eisen Show earlier this month that the lower number of games played should have a big impact on the OSU's CFP candidacy.
"I think the fact that we're going to have 11 games plus the SEC teams - you look at Florida and Texas A&M and Alabama - those teams are going to have 11 games this year is amazing," said Swinney. “And I think the Big Ten had an equal chance and they chose not to play. I think the only reason they ended up playing is to lead the SEC, the ACC and the Big 12. And they showed that we can do it and do it the safe way. "
Swinney later added, "I just think there has to be some sort of standard, and I just think - if I were on a committee I'd have a hard time getting a 10-1 Texas A&M or an 11-game- Team in Florida to skip over a team that has played six games. That would be difficult for me if I were on committee. But I'm not on the committee, so it doesn't matter. "
Clemson and the state of Ohio naturally met in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs last year. Clemson overcame an early 16-0 deficit in the first half and scored a dramatic 29-23 win less than two minutes ahead of a touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to Travis Etienne.
The state of Ohio now has a chance to take revenge, and Swinney's ballot will only add to that motivation for the Buckeyes.
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