Clemson coach Dabo Swinney votes Ohio State outside top 10 on coaches poll ballot
Soon after the seeding for the College Football Playoff was announced Sunday during a selection show on ESPN, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney appeared on air and praised Ohio State.
Matched up against the Buckeyes in the semifinal in the Sugar Bowl, he called them “incredibly talented” and forecasted another “competitive game” after the teams had clashed in last season’s semifinals.
But Swinney didn’t think highly enough of the Buckeyes to put them near the top of his ballot in the Amway Coaches Poll, which released by USA TODAY on Monday.
Swinney ranked Ohio State at No. 11, the only one of 61 voting head coaches to leave the Buckeyes outside the top 10.
It was a significant deviation from how most viewed Ohio State, as 53 of them put the playoff-bound team in their top four.
Six coaches had the Buckeyes fifth on their ballots: Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell, Florida International’s Butch Davis, Texas-El Paso’s Dana Dimel, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, Texas Christian’s Gary Patterson and Alabama’s Nick Saban.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart had Ohio State at No. 6, the second-lowest behind Swinney.
After voting in the poll last season, Ohio State coach Ryan Day did not participate this fall.
Swinney’s top 10 went: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Cincinnati, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 9 Iowa State and No. 10 Coastal Carolina.
Four of the teams had multiple losses, Florida and Iowa State three each. But all of the teams ranked ahead of the Buckeyes on his ballot had played nine or more games.
In recent weeks, Swinney had urged the 13 members of the selection committee to prioritize the number of games played.
It ultimately didn’t sway them from including Ohio State in the four-team playoff, but he continued to take issue with shorter schedules, particularly in the Big Ten after the league had a delayed start to its season in October.
Swinney ranked Indiana at No. 14, Northwestern at No. 19 and Iowa at No. 22, each several spots lower than their finish in the committee’s final rankings.