Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday he doesn't believe the SEC schedule faced by the Alabama Crimson Tide played a role in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
The Tigers crushed the Tide 44-16 to win their second national title in the past three years. Swinney told ESPN's Chris Low he has a lot of respect for the SEC, but pointed to Bama's large average margin of victory as a reason fatigue shouldn't be considered a factor:
"Listen, the SEC is a great conference, but I don't think they've been as deep the last few years. I think they've had two or three really good teams and then it's kind of been hit or miss from there. It's an awesome league, for sure, and I know people say that Alabama was tired because they went through the grind and had to play all these teams. Well, they won by an average of 33.1 points per game [going into the playoff], so they ought to be well rested.
"My thing on that is, 'Are you serious? They're tired?' Then you look at Clemson, and we won 12 games by 20-plus. Who really challenged Alabama in the SEC? They didn't get challenged by anybody until the Georgia game [in the SEC championship]."
Alabama wasn't seriously challenged for a vast majority of the season. It didn't win a single-score game until a 35-28 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC title game. Then the Tide beat the Oklahoma Sooners by 11 in the CFP semifinals before the blowout loss to Clemson.
Bama head coach Nick Saban didn't blame the schedule after the championship game, however, instead accepting blame for not being adequately prepared for the matchups.
"I have a feeling I didn't do a very good job for our team...never got comfortable with what we needed to do on defense," he told reporters after the Jan. 7 game. "Our secondary vs. their receivers. It was bothering me going into the game and as it unfolded, those matchups were a big difference."
Clemson and Alabama could be on a CFP collision course this season, so the differences between life in the SEC and ACC may move to the forefront of the conversation again.