Ohio State shocked the college football world on Friday night, blowing out Clemson en route to a national title game matchup with Alabama. After the contest, Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney was asked if he might have provided a little bit of motivation for the Buckeyes unintentionally.
Last week, in his final Coaches’ Poll ballot, Swinney ranked Ohio State No. 11 – not because he didn’t think the Buckeyes were a good football team – but because he said he didn’t think any team that didn’t play at least nine games should be ranked in the top 10.
Ohio State played six games this year because the Big Ten didn’t start its season until mid-October and the Buckeyes had three games cancelled due to COVID-19. Still, clearly, they were one of the best four teams in the country.
Swinney was asked after the game if he regretted what he said about Ohio State in regards to rankings and whether he thinks it motivated Buckeyes. Of course, he said no.
“No I don’t regret any of that and the polls have nothing to do with motivation. Both teams were highly motivated to play. Listen, they’re a great team. As I said, that had nothing to do with Ohio State.
As I said, they’re good enough to beat us, good enough to win the whole dang thing. I didn’t think anybody that didn’t play at least nine games – in my poll – I wasn’t going to put them in the top 10. 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.
The only thing I regret is that I obviously didn’t do a good enough job getting my team ready.”
"No, I don't regret any of that."
—Dabo Swinney on if he thought his coaches poll ballot had anything to do with Ohio State's motivation pic.twitter.com/K6viA6BLha
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 2, 2021
Dabo is wrong about one thing. There’s no way that Ohio State didn’t take the ranking as a slight and use it as motivation. Swinney knows as well as anyone that locker room material can have a huge impact on college football games.
Regardless, it’ll be Ohio State and Alabama for the national championship on January 11.