The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Highlights from Head Coaches News Conference

Highlights from the Head Coaches News Conference

By James Bell


We are one day away from the College Football Playoff National Championship Game and Coach Nick Saban for Alabama and Coach Dabo Swinney for Clemson answered a few questions about what’s in store for the game on Monday night and other questions that were given to them. Here are a few that they answered…


“The turnaround from the semis to the championship game this year was two days shorter. What adjustments did you have to make, and how does it compare to a game week during the season?”

Coach Saban: “I think that this year’s turnaround was probably a little closer to what a normal regular season would be relative to the number of practice days you have for a game. It’s more challenging preparation that way. But at the same time, I think the routine for the players is probably a little more satisfying.”

“Last year it was a little bit of a tough management with the number of time you had between the season and the first playoff game and then the time we had from the playoff game, and I thought that our team was a little bit tired. We played a little bit tired in the game last year, didn’t seem like we had the juice. Maybe we practiced a little bit too much. Maybe it was a little bit too much for them. Seemed like — seems like this year because the games were closer together, that that really wasn’t as much of an issue.”

Coach Swinney: “I agree. I thought we had great prep for Ohio State. We actually had a couple extra days built into that schedule, and it just seemed — I think we managed that very well. It was a little bit more of a challenge for us as coaches, because last year we did play on Friday down here in the Orange Bowl, and we just had a day to get back (Saturday), get situated, and then we had a full day as a staff to get going, brought the players in on Monday. Didn’t really change much for the players in that they came back on Monday, but the difference is that we played on Saturday night, we didn’t get back until between 9:00 and 10:00 Sunday night. Coaches, we had to kind of make the plane our office, if you will, coming back. Players were able to sleep and rest.”

“For both coaches, there’s so many distractions and media opportunities in both playoff games. When you walk out of this podium today, what sense of relief will you feel, or how much relief will you feel that the talking for all of the playoff is finally over and you can just go back to your teams and your coaches and finish up your preparations for a bowl game?”

Coach Saban: “I don’t know that you really feel any sense of relief. I think that what you do, what the media does, creates a tremendous amount of interest for college football and college football players. And I think that’s what makes this venue a great venue for the competitors and players that are at the game.”

“So this is a part of it that sort of goes with it, and it’s an important part of it. So 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 feel any sense of relief. I’m sort of glad to be here.”

Coach Swinney: “Yeah, I second that. I like structure. I like structure. I like to be organized. When you get into this, you spend a lot of time with the itinerary, and as long as I know I can kind of compartmentalize, okay, this is what we’re doing right now and I just believe you try to be great where you are, man. I’m very thankful to be here. I’ll just tell you, I’m not real excited about playing Alabama tomorrow night, but I’m very, very thankful to have the opportunity to be here.”

“I don’t see it as a relief, either. I see it as a privilege.”

“I just have a question for each of you. You usually have very diverse coaching staffs. I was wondering, do you think in the next 10 to 15 years you’re going to see a larger pool of talent coming in the coaching ranks, head coaching ranks, and what do each of you do to sort of encourage that and mentor that?”

Coach Saban: “Well, we’ve always tried to have programs inherent with our staff relative to creating opportunities for diversity, minorities. I think it’s really really important that your coaching staff represents and has the role models that a lot of these young men actually need and can be helpful in their development of helping them be successful as people, as students, and as players.”

Coach Swinney: “Yeah, I agree with that. One of the things that I really want for our players is I want them to know that they can come to Clemson and not just score touchdowns and be an All-American on the football field, but they can be an AD at Clemson. They can be an offensive coordinator, a defensive coordinator. Tony Elliott, who played for me, is our offensive coordinator, calls the plays, does an unbelievable job, and I think that is a great message to those guys.”

“Now you’ve got to — nobody is entitled to anything. You’ve got to earn it, and it’s the same thing if you look at Jeff Davis, who I always say he’s kind of the Joe Namath of Clemson, if you will. He’s in the Hall of Fame, captain of the national championship team, unbelievable guy. He’s in the Ring of Honor. But he’s one of our athletic directors.”

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