Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and Ohio State head coach Ryan Day took part in the initial media availability for the 2021 Sugar Bowl on Sunday. Both coaches spoke for about 10 minutes and provided updates on their respective teams and shared some thoughts on what it means to make it the playoffs this year. Here are all of the highlights from what was said.
— It’s good to be back in the playoffs and this is an incredible opportunity for his team. They had to beat Notre Dame to get here and they did it.
— Looking forward to competing against a talented Ohio State team. They know how good the Buckeyes are this year.
— The committee works hard to select who they think is the four best teams and this is what they came up with. There are talented players on all four of these teams. If you’re going to pick the four best year in and year out, there’s probably 6 or 7 teams out there that have a shot any given year.
— The playoffs have been good and it’s created opportunity for big games like this. “I didn’t have a problem with the BCS even though it was just two teams.” But everybody wants more, more, more. College football is 130 teams. It’s very difficult to get to this point.
— Is Ohio State a rival? “Absolutely.” When they are playing Ohio State, it’s always a big game with a lot on the line. “It’s probably some type of meaning. You know it’s a big, big postseason game.”
— “I think Ryan does things the right way.” They recruit a lot of the same guys. A lot of respect for the Ohio State program. “It’s definitely a team that we compete with not just on the field but in recruiting.”
— Was yesterday Clemson’s best football game of the year? “Oh yeah, no question.” Complete in all three phases.
— They have been battle-tested this season and it paid off in Charlotte.
— Is it an advantage for a team to be fresher? “I think the games matter. The mental and physical toll on the season, there’s nobody out there that would say somebody who’s played 11 games versus somebody who’s played six is better physically.” “I definitely think it matters, but at the end of the day, none of that matters in New Orleans.”
— Asked about expansion of the playoffs, “nothing would surprise me.” The reason college football is so special is because every game matters. Expansion would water it down. Teams could rest guys or not play guys. If Clemson could get in at 4 teams, he thinks they’d be able to get in at 8 teams. “The more and more it goes, the less and less the games matter.”
— “Our guys have been awesome. They’ve done the right things all year.” They lived with a new type of discipline this year and the academics were great as well.
— “We have less time to get ready for this game than we did Notre Dame.”
— They will arrive some time on the 30th. Not your typical bowl experience.
— “Everyone here is certainly excited.”
— Nothing but respect for Dabo Swinney and Clemson. Swinney and his wife have been great to Day and his wife Nina.
— Should a team have to win its conference championship to make the playoffs? “The way it is right now, I don’t think that makes any sense.” The only way that works is to expand the playoffs. “I do think winning your conference is very significant.”
— Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are two of the most dynamic players in the history of college football.
— “The good thing for us is that we haven’t played in that many games.” They are healthy physically, but the positive tests have been difficult.
— On Justin Fields’ thumb: “Justin will be fine.”
— They didn’t get over the loss to Clemson in just one day. The goal was always to get back in this situation. “How we got back here is just amazing. You can’t even make it up.” Excited to start preparing. Gonna have to play their best game to beat Clemson.
— He’s not sure what kind of concern there is because of the lack of games for Ohio State. Both teams are going to play hard and whoever executes better will win.
— They have guys that will return from COVID based on the new Big Ten rule that has not been announced yet. It’s for the entire Big Ten. Chris Olave and Baron Browning could be close to returning if the numbers work out.
— Ohio State has an opportunity to write the greatest story in college football history.
— Josh Myers, Nick Petit-Frere, and Thayer Munford going into yesterday’s game had played just one game in the last month, but they played well. They returned well and prepared for that return. And it will be the same for Chris Olave and Baron Browning. They need to clear all of the cardiac testing and the other necessary protocols.