Clemson’s Dabo Swinney again defends ranking Ohio State 11th: ‘If people have a problem … I don’t really care’

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on Monday again defended why he voted Ohio State No. 11 in his final Amway Coaches Poll ballot, saying, "If people have a problem with that, I don't really care. It's my poll."

Swinney, whose No. 2-seeded Tigers play No. 3 Ohio State Friday in the Sugar Bowl national semifinal, said he took his position based on the number of games teams played this year in a schedule disrupted by COVID-19 issues.

"It’s not that they’re not good enough," Swinney said on a conference call with reporters. "I just don’t think it’s right that three teams have to play 13 games to be the champion and one team has to play eight."

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney doesn't care if you are mad he voted Ohio State 11th in the Amway Coaches Poll. (Photo: Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports)

While acknowledging Ohio State is "good enough to beat anybody," Swinney ranked the Buckeyes  so low in his final regular-season ballot because he did not consider teams that played fewer than nine games for the top 10. Ohio State wound up ranked third in the poll.

"There’s no question Ohio State is good enough to beat us," Swinney said. "They’re good enough to be the national champion. That’s not a question at all."

OSU is a "wonderful program," he said.

Swinney's poll had Alabama No. 1 and the Tigers No. 2. The Buckeyes were the highest-ranked team in Swinney's poll to play fewer than nine games during the regular season.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day is scheduled to meet the media later Monday.

Where he ranked OSU is " a big deal because we’re having to play them," Swinney said, following up on remarks he made in an interview Saturday with ESPN. 

"There’s no gamesmanship. I just didn’t put anyone in there or consider anyone who didn’t play nine games or more. It just worked out, hey, we’ve got to play one of those teams. But that’s on the committee. That’s what they decided to do."

Three years ago, Swinney's final regular-season ballot ranked Ohio State ahead of Alabama, the eventual national champions, after the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title and the Crimson Tide lost the SEC West division to Auburn.

"People take it personal, but it’s nothing personal at all. I know you can say, ‘Well, they should be one of the best teams.’ Well, the game’s not played on paper.

"I think the games matter. I don’t think it’s right that Texas A&M, that Florida, that Cincinnati got punished because they played more games. These games matter."

By agreement with the American Football Coaches Association, the final regular-season ballots are made public. Swinney said he was aware of that.

"Yeah, absolutely," said Swinney. "You don’t think I know that’s going to be public? To me, right is right. It’s not always easy to do the right thing. I absolutely knew I’d be the poster child for whatever. I could probably run for governor of Michigan and probably have a good chance. I’m not that popular in Ohio. But listen, I don’t live my life that way."

Clemson has made six straight trips to the playoff, winning two national championships and reaching another two championship games.

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