Alabama defensive back Tony Brown apparently used Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s vote in the USA Today coaches poll as some motivation.
In the hours after Alabama’s 24-6 win over Clemson, Brown cited Swinney’s choice to have Ohio State at No. 4 and Alabama at No. 5 in his final ballot. As you know, the Tide got the fourth and final College Football Playoff spot ahead of the Buckeyes, who won the Big Ten title.
“They told us we weren’t ready,” Brown said early Tuesday morning in a rare interview with reporters. “They told us we weren’t worthy of a top-four team. I mean, look, that’s what happens when you talk trash to us. That’s what happens. We’re going to show you.”
Asked to clarify, Brown said the comment about not being a top-four team came in a car-wash event.
“He said them to Coach Saban’s face,” Brown said. “He didn’t vote for us.”
It’s important to note that Swinney’s vote in the coaches poll was made with no knowledge of what the final four in the College Football Playoff would be. The coaches poll came out just before Noon ET on Sunday, Dec. 3, before the selection show for the College Football Playoff began.
Swinney’s top four was Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Alabama was fifth, followed by USC and Wisconsin. You can view his whole ballot here.
The Clemson coach was asked about his vote in a press conference with the other three playoff coaches — Saban included — on Dec. 7. Perhaps this is the exchange Brown is referencing.
“3:00 in the morning on a bus ride home from Charlotte, a moment of insanity, complete insanity,” Swinney said with a smile when asked about putting Alabama No. 5.
“No, just coming home. Literally it was 3:00 in the morning [after the ACC Championship Game win over Miami]. Man, I got to do this poll. Looking at it, you know, they won 11 games. Alabama won 11 games. [Ohio State] won the Big Ten championship. Obviously the committee has a lot of things to look at, a lot of data. They’re going to pick the four best teams however they see it.”
“At that moment, that’s the way I voted. They’re all great teams, man.”
Saban then lightheartedly quipped “He was just respecting his alma mater, that’s all” in a reference to Swinney’s Alabama ties.
“I’m trying to get rid of him, but I can’t shake him,” Swinney then said with a laugh.
That was clearly a malicious exchange (not), though if you were Dabo Swinney, would you really want to play Alabama for a third time in three years anyway? And if Swinney had voted Alabama at No. 4 and Ohio State would have been chosen by the committee, he’s in the same situation regarding perceived disrespect.
But hey, whatever works for motivation. After all, ESPN reported at halftime of the Sugar Bowl that Nick Saban told his team that Alabama would be an unexpected victor of the game as a motivational ploy. The Tide were favored by 3.5 points in the game, the 110th time in the last 111 games that Alabama entered as the betting favorite.
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