Alabama and Clemson are the top two programs in college football.
There have been 11 games played in the College Football Playoff over the past four years, and either Clemson or Alabama has won 10 of them.
There is talk that having two programs so dominant is bad for college football. But Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Sunday that he is paying no attention to anyone who might feel that way.
“I’m not going to apologize for having a great team and a great program and a bunch of committed guys, and coach (Nick) Saban is not either,” Swinney said in the final news conference leading up to Monday’s title game. “I think the objective is to get the two best teams. That’s kind of the way it is. If that’s not best for college football, then why did we even do it?”
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Clemson and Alabama will have combined to win the past four national titles at the conclusion of Monday night’s game, and the two teams will have won 11 of the past 12 College Football Playoff games.
Georgia is the only other team in the country to win a playoff game over the past four years, and the Bulldogs did that as Clemson and Alabama played in a semifinal game.
Still, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said his only focus is on continuing to build the best program he can.
“I don’t really get too concerned about a lot of other programs,” Saban said. “I can’t really speak for other teams or what the impact of college football really is, but it’s my job and my responsibility to do the best job that we can for our team, our players, our program in terms of what it takes for us to be successful, and I guess that’s what we’ll continue to focus on.”
Swinney has made it clear he’s against expanding the playoff format beyond four teams.
Continuing to learn
Saban and Swinney are not just fierce competitors, but the two are also friends who bounce ideas off of each other.
Swinney explained that he has learned a great deal from watching Saban as he has tried to build a powerhouse at Clemson. In particular, Swinney said Saban taught him to always be himself, that every detail matters and that you have to build a program that provides an environment where student-athletes have a great experience while developing as a person and a player.
“You’re talking about a program that I have a deep love and respect for, always have, always will, and a coach that’s won six national championships; and the level of consistency is a model and an aspiration for every program,” Swinney said. “I think as a coach, we’re always studying and trying to learn from every program, and Alabama has certainly been the standard for a decade or so since he’s been there. So I’ve learned lots of things. ... I’ve called on him a time or two to ask him his opinion on some things, and we’ve swapped some ideas. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to learn.”
Who: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Clemson
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Where: Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Line: Alabama by 5 1/2