Let the babble conclude.
As Alabama and Clemson prepare for their Monday night rematch, Coaches Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney met with the assembled media for the last time Sunday morning in downtown Tampa.
As the underdogs getting a shot at revenge, there definitely seems to be a growing sentiment around Tampa Bay for Dabo and his Tigers to knock off mighty Alabama. Swinney said Sunday morning he knew that had a good chance to be back in this spot, “(We) played a lot of freshmen last year, so I knew we were going to have a very strong sophomore group and the seniors and juniors that we did have were impactful people, incredibly committed to our program, to the way we do things, to the standard in our program, and guys like Deshaun Watson and Ben Boulware and Mike Williams, Wayne Gallman, Carlos Watkins, Jay Guillermo, these are very impactful leaders, and I could just tell right out of the gate from the very first meeting that we got by that these guys were locked in.”
Meanwhile, you might think Saban and the Tide going for an amazing fifth national title in eight years could be weary at this point of all the talking and the hype. You would be wrong.
At least from what he said Sunday, “… as much as you all think I don’t like the media, I respect what you do and think it’s important that we do a good job of trying to help you do your job because you do a great job for the fans in reinforcing what the players do in creating a lot of interest for our game. Yeah, do we like to focus on the game? Absolutely, that’s what coaches like to do. That’s what competitors like to do.
I don’t really feel any sense of relief. I’m sort of glad to be here.”
If you are not aware, Swinney grew up in and walked on, as a player at Alabama under Gene Stallings in the early 90’s and now for the second straight year will try for a National Title against his first love. Dabo on Sunday had nothing but respect for Nick Saban and the job he’s done. “I mean, obviously I grew up, Coach Bryant was a hero of mine, and everybody here knows about Coach Bryant. But with what Coach Saban has done, the amount of championships in the span of time with scholarships, it’s just incredible. I really have no words, because it’s really hard to do… He’s worked really hard – every year is kind of that season of its own and you have your challenges, and it’s a journey of its own.”
Finally, Saban set the stage for the Monday Night sequel at Raymond James Stadium: “I think certainly that Clemson deserves to be here, and I think they’re the best team, and I think our team deserves to be here, and they’ve done a great job all year to beat a lot of good teams to have the opportunity to get here, as well.
If I was going to pick who the two best teams are, I would say the two best teams are here. And that’s the way it should be. That’s the way a playoff should be. And I think if you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best…”
On that point, no matter what anyone else thinks or says between now and kickoff Monday, it’s down to just Alabama and Clemson for the second straight year.
Talking is done. Time for the title game, please.