Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s stance that teams playing only six games ought to be barred from the College Football Playoff — and ranking Ohio State 11th in his final coaches’ poll — made ample bulletin board material for the Buckeyes going into Friday night’s game.
After Clemson’s 49-28 loss to Ohio State, Swinney was blasted on social media even before the clock hit triple zeroes.
Ohio native LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers was among the critics, chiding the coach for his low ranking.
Swinney told reporters after the game he had no regrets about ranking Ohio State where he did.
“I don’t regret any of that, and polls have nothing to do with motivation. Both teams were highly motivated to play,” he said, via ESPN.
“They’re a great team. [The ranking] had nothing to do with Ohio State. I said they were good enough to beat us, good enough to win the whole dang thing. But I didn’t think anybody that didn’t play at least nine games, in my poll, that I wasn’t going to put them in the top 10. So I wasn’t going to change that just because there was a chance we could play them. So I don’t have any regret about that. Only thing I regret is obviously not doing a good enough job getting my team ready.”
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who had six touchdown passes, wouldn’t touch the question immediately after the game. His teammate, tight end Jeremy Ruckert, said it didn’t motivate them any more than the game itself, but it made the win a bit sweeter.
“Anything motivates you, whether it’s what they say or what we say,” he said. “This is the biggest stage in college football. If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what you’re doing here. We definitely heard what he was saying and used it as motivation, but the stage, the platform of the playoff and the chance to go move on, that’s motivation in itself. Now we just have to keep that energy going.”
Ohio State will play Alabama for the national championship on Jan. 11.