Dabo Swinney was put in a dicey predicament Thursday night as he sat beside Nick Saban on stage at the College Football Hall of Fame for a College Football Playoff head coaches press conference. The Clemson head coach was asked if Ohio State was a more worthy team than Alabama to be selected for the CFP.
Swinney, a former Alabama player and assistant coach, voted Ohio State No. 4 and Alabama No. 5 on his final ballot for the USA Today coaches poll.
Swinney’s Clemson team has faced Alabama in the last two national championship games, which both went down to the final second, and he faced Ohio State last year in a 31-0 semifinal win over the Buckeyes.
“You want the honest answer? 3:00 in the morning on a bus ride home from Charlotte, a moment of insanity, complete insanity,” a grinning Swinney said.
“No, just coming home. Literally it was 3:00 in the morning. Man, I got to do this poll. Looking at it, you know, they won 11 games. Alabama won 11 games. They won the Big Ten championship. Obviously the committee has a lot of things to look at, a lot of data. They’re going to pick the four best teams however they see it.
“At that moment, that’s the way I voted. They’re all great teams, man.”
A smiling Saban interjected with a joke that Swinney was just disrespecting his alma mater.
“I’m trying to get rid of him, but I can’t shake him,” Saban said to laughter.
Alabama faces Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal of the CFP on New Year’s Day.