Dabo Swinney

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As college football coaches preach staying home, Dabo Swinney was flying on vacation

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As more and more college football coaches are putting out public service announcements about the severity of the coronavirus, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, the eternal optimist, is not bashful about taking his family on vacation with a private jet. And he may be doing so again around Easter.

Speaking to members of the media on Friday, Swinney spread his usual positive message in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Swinney remains as confident as possible in suggesting college football’s 2020 season will manage to kick off as currently scheduled. Swinney’s proclamation college football will be unaffected in the fall came in the most patriotic way imaginable.

“I don’t have any doubt. I have zero doubt that we’re going to be playing and the stands are going to be packed,” Swinney said. “I’ve got one plan, and that’s to get the Tigers ready to play in late August, early September.”

Perhaps that sense of security is what has allowed Swinney to keep on living some parts of his life as if nothing has changed. For example, going on vacation with the family. Swinney said his family flew to Florida recently on a private plane, and he is contemplating flying again next week for Easter.

“The plane was sanitized,” Swinney said. “We don’t have any concern.”

It must be nice to live such a lifestyle right now.

The state of South Carolina is one of the few remaining states with no state-wide stay-home order in place (Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa have no orders in place), but it is one of four states with stay-home orders in place in parts of the state (Utah, Wyoming, and Oklahoma). As of now, Charleston and Columbia are the two major locations in the state with stay-home orders in play, with Charleston enacting its order on March 26 and Columbia following three days later on March 29.

The ACC suspended all athletic activities in mid-March.

Georgia wins recruiting national title with No. 1 recruiting class

Kirby Smart has his second No. 1 recruiting class at Georgia.
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For the second time in three years, the Georgia Bulldogs have signed the nation’s top-rated recruiting class. With the second National Signing Day drawing to a close, the recruiting rankings have been compiled and the composite rankings from 247 Sports have determined Georgia will close out the Class of 2020 with the nation’s No. 1 class.

To claim the top spot, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart once again had to edge his former boss, Alabama head coach Nick Saban. After returning to the top spot in the recruiting wars last season, Saban and Alabama pulled in the nation’s No. 2 class, just edging out Dabo Swinney and Clemson.

Consider Georgia now charged with the responsibility of delivering on some lofty expectations. Such high expectations are nothing new for Georgia, of course. Smart has already delivered an SEC title and a run to the national championship game in his time as Georgia’s head coach, but the bar continues to be in need of being cleared. With four straight recruiting classes ranked in the top four of the nation and two top-rated classes in the last three seasons, Georgia looks to have the roster it needs to win a seemingly elusive national title. Even from a conference with Alabama and the new defending national champions (LSU, who signed the No. 4 overall class), the time is now for Georgia to put up or shut-up.

This is Smart’s program from top to bottom now. Now let’s see if it is good enough to win it all.

Another Strong Year for the SEC

The SEC has made it routine to see the majority of its conference landing in the top 25 of the annual recruiting rankings. This year was no different. In addition to Georgia, Alabama and LSU landing in the top four, the SEC had four more teams rank in the top 10. Texas A&M (No. 6), Auburn (No. 7), Florida (No. 8), and Tennessee (No. 10) each brought in a ton of talent and potential in their latest recruiting classes. Only Clemson, Ohio State (No. 5), and Texas (No. 9) managed to crack the top 10 from outside of the SEC.

South Carolina (No. 18) and Kentucky (No. 24) also waved the SEC flag inside the top 25. That gives the SEC 9 teams in the top 25 of the national recruiting rankings. Mississippi State (No. 27), Arkansas (No. 30), Ole Miss (No. 39), and Missouri (No. 50) also cracked the top 50. Vanderbilt is the only SEC member without a top 50 recruiting class, but the Commodores come in at No. 57 as of the time of this post being written.

  • Top 50 By Conference
    • SEC: 13
    • Big Ten: 11
    • ACC: 9
    • Pac-12: 8
    • Big 12: 7
    • AAC: 1

As for teams in the top 25, the Big Ten is well-represented. And it’s the usual names you will find form the conference in the top 25. Aside from the Buckeyes, Michigan and Penn State are back-to-back at No. 14 and No. 15, respectively. Nebraska, who always seems to fare well in recruiting rankings no matter the year, comes in at No. 20. Wisconsin (No. 25) rounds out the top 25 recruiting rankings.

Best Recruiting Classes in Each Conference

When it comes to what schools are leading the way in recruiting within their own conferences, there are some familiar leaders of the pack here. Ohio State continues to be the champions of the Big Ten in recruiting, and the results on the field have backed that up. Clemson has been the dominant force in the ACC for a number of years now, with nobody really closing in just yet. Texas is taking the crown in the Big 12 this year, and defending Pac-12 champion Oregon is sitting on top of the Pac-12 recruiting rankings just as they did last year (it’s another rough year for USC on the recruiting trail, with the No. 10 class…… in the Pac-12).

  • AAC – Cincinnati (No. 40)
  • ACC – Clemson (No. 3)
  • Big 12 – Texas (No. 9)
  • Big Ten – Ohio State (No. 5)
  • Conference USA – FIU (No. 71)
  • MAC – Toledo (No. 68)
  • Mountain West – Boise State (No. 65)
  • Pac-12 – Oregon (No. 12)
  • SEC – Georgia (No. 1)
  • Sun Belt – Louisiana (No. 79)

A few notable differences from last year’s Class of 2019 rankings include Cincinnati taking the top spot in the AAC this year. The Bearcats dethrone UCF for the top recruiting class in the conference and are easily ahead of the rest of the Group of 5 programs. The next Group of 5 team in the recruiting rankings is Boise State (No. 65), but the Broncos are ranked 16 spots lower than where they sat a year ago. In Conference USA, the departure of Lane Kiffin (from FAU to Ole Miss) may have been what was needed for FIU to slip ahead of FAU.

It is worth noting that recruiting rankings are subject to change. All rankings are according to the latest 247 Sports composite rankings at the time of this posting.

Throwback Thursday: In 2012, Dabo Swinney said the ACC will produce a national champion

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In doing some quick searching through the archives for another story on the docket, I just so happened to stumble upon a fun little quote and headline form the past. Dabo Swinney, head coach of the Clemson Tigers, is widely regarded as one of the top college football coaches in the sport today, and some might even argue he is the best even ahead of Alabama’s Nick Saban. But it wasn’t really all that long ago Swinney was a coach who was charming but still clearly attempting to climb the ladder in the college football world. But lacking in confidence was never a part of Swinney’s personality, and the human quote machine turned up quite a prediction back in 2012 when the talk of various realignment discussions were at their best.

One rumor that never came to fruition was the idea of Florida State and Clemson leaving the ACC for the Big 12. Clearly, that never came to be, as both programs have remained in the ACC. But the topic was commented on by Swinney, in 2012 who made it clear the struggling ACC would regain its status as a power conference. Keep in mind at the time the ACC was similar in stature to its power-conference peers it is perceived to be today, without the benefit of having a national title contender in its lineup. Florida State was down (although some FSU fans would prefer 2012’s “down” to 2019’s “down”) and the conference was lacking in star power.

So when Swinney proclaimed the ACC will produce a national champion, you would be forgiven for not taking that comment too seriously.

At the time Swinney made his comments about the future of the ACC, the head coach of the Clemson Tigers was fresh off his best season at the helm of the program. Clemson completed a 10-4 record and won the ACC championship. Unfortunately, the season ended on the roughest of notes for Swinney and the Tigers when No. 14 Clemson was dominated in the Orange bowl by Big East champion West Virginia, 70-33. Little could anyone know at the time, Swinney was spot on with his future outlook for the conference and he had a major hand in making it a reality.

Two years after Swinney proclaimed a national champion would hail from the ACC, Florida State and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston climbed to the top of the college football world and won the final BCS National Championship. Fittingly enough, Florida State won its national championship game against Auburn, bringing the SEC’s BCS title run to an end after seven consecutive titles won by an SEC member. Florida State would follow up their national championship run by being selected for the inaugural College Football Playoff. After being taken out by Pac-12 champion Oregon in the Rose Bowl semifinal game, it was officially Clemson’s turn for national championship glory.

Clemson reached the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in the 2015 season, where they fell to Alabama, but the Tigers got revenge on the Crimson Tide the following season to claim the national championship for the 2016 season. Last season, in 2018, Swinney coached the Tigers to a second national championship in the College Football Playoff era.

A reminder Nick Saban is a perfect 17-0 against former assistants as No. 1 Alabama heads to No. 24 Texas A&M

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It’s that time of the year again when we are regularly reminded that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has never lost to an assistant coach during his coaching career. That perfect streak will once again be put on the line this weekend when the top-ranked Crimson Tide make their way to College Station, Texas to face the No. 24 Texas A&M Aggies. Texas A&M, of course, is coached by Jimbo Fisher. You guessed it. Fisher is a former assistant to Saban.

Fisher has gone 0-2 against his former boss, including last season’s loss in SEC play. Last season marked the first time Fisher faced Saban as a coach of an SEC West Division foe. His previous loss to Saban came while coaching at Florida State when the No. 3 Seminoles opened the 2017 season with a 24-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama in the season opener in Atlanta, Georgia. The most-hyped Week 1 game in quite some time ended up being far from able to match the preseason hype. Florida State hasn’t exactly been the same since and may still be trying to recover from that game.

The odds always seem to be in Saban’s favor, as he generally has the best team in every matchup against his former assistants, and that should once again be the case this weekend. Is Saban due for a loss against an assistant? Perhaps. It’s hard to win so many games before taking a mild hit somewhere along the way, even if by a fluke. Fisher may have Texas A&M working to be a viable threat to Alabama, and maybe playing at home helps, but the Aggies have already lost one game at home to Auburn so it doesn’t seem like this may be a difficult destination for Alabama.

Brett McMurphy of Stadium notes Saban has lost to just nine active coaches. Active coaches with victories against Saban are Les Miles (Kansas; 3), Hugh Freeze (Liberty; 2), Gus Malzahn (Auburn; 2), Dabo Swinney (Clemson; 2), Mack Brown (UNC; 2), David Cutcliffe (Duke; 1), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa; 1), Kevin Sumlin (Arizona; 1) and Kyle Whittingham (1; Utah). Only four of those coaches (Malzahn, Swinney, Ferentz, Whittingham) are at the same program today as they were when they topped Saban. Swinney and Brown, of course, have victories against Saban in the national championship game (Brown in the BCS and Swinney twice in the College Football Playoff).

Is Fisher going to be the first former Saban assistant to beat his old boss? We’ll find out this week. If not, we may be waiting for Kirby Smart to get another crack in the SEC Championship Game.

No. 1 Clemson hangs on against UNC for 20th straight win

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Over the course of a 20-game winning streak, there are bound to be some close calls. On Saturday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, No. 1 Clemson (5-0, 3-0 ACC) had one of the closest calls of their current 20-game winning streak as the Tigers held on to escape an upset bid by North Carolina (2-3, 1-1 ACC), 21-20. Clemson came up with a stop on a two-point conversion attempt in the final minute of the game and prevented UNC from coming up with an onside kick to grab the win.

North Carolina did a good job of keeping Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence off his mark for most of the night (Lawrence was 18-of-30 for 206 yards and a touchdown), but he delivered a perfect pass to give Clemson its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter with a pass to Tee Higgins.

UNC had an answer, however. Freshman quarterback Sam Howell led the Tar Heels on a 16-play drive and 75 yards to get on the doorstep of the end zone in the final minutes of the game. Javonte Williams pushed the ball in for a touchdown to cut the Clemson lead to one. Head coach Mack Brown didn’t hesitate and was ready to go for two and the win. But Clemson was ready for the play and was all over Howell on the run.

After the win, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney praised the effort by the Tar Heels and admitted to being out-coached by Brown. Swinney also said his team is not entitled to win and still has to go out and earn their wins just like everybody else.

Clemson now continues to extend its winning streak to 20 games, a school record. After getting next week off, the Tigers will host Florida State. North Carolina will visit Georgia Tech next week. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 24-2 loss at Temple.