Fiesta Bowl Coaches' Teleconference: Ryan Day, Dabo Swinney Look Ahead to Ohio State vs. Clemson College Football Playoff Semifinal

By Dan Hope on December 8, 2019 at 4:31 pm
Ryan Day and Dabo Swinney
Swinney photo: Adam Hagy – USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in four years, Ohio State is meeting Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals at the Fiesta Bowl.

Hours after learning that their respective teams would be facing each other on Dec. 28, Ohio State coach Ryan Day and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney participated in a joint teleconference to look ahead to this year's meeting with the Buckeyes and the Tigers and field questions from reporters.

A quick bullet-point recap of what both of them had to say:

Ryan Day:

  • "First off, I just want to say what an honor is for us to go to the Fiesta Bowl, one of the most prestigious bowls in the entire country."
  • On Clemson: "We have the utmost respect for what they've done, not only winning national championships but continuing that excellence ... We're looking forward to a tremendous challenge, because not only are they talented, they're very well-coached."
  • "I thought we finished the season strong, especially the last three games."
  • Day said he thinks college football should "definitely consider" playoff expansion so that all the Power 5 conference champions get a chance to compete for a national title.
  • On Clemson: "Trevor Lawrence is as good of a quarterback as there is in the country. Etienne is as explosive a running back as there is in the country." Also said Clemson wide receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross are dynamic. On defense, "I think Brent Venables does as good job as anybody in the country."
  • On Ohio State: "I think you're talking about a team that has a lot of great love for each other. A lot of great leadership, discipline and maturity ... love and toughness are the things that make the difference."
  • Asked whether Brendon White would be back for the playoff, Ryan Day said he would have conversations with White this week and would go from there. Day said earlier Sunday that White did not travel to the Big Ten Championship Game due to "personal reasons." 
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Dabo Swinney:

  • On Ohio State: "They've been unbelievable. One of the most dominant teams, every week, all year long, and that's an unbelievable accomplishment. Talented on both sides of the ball."
  • On the criticism the ACC has faced this year: "I don't care what league you're in, it's incredibly difficult to win them all."
  • Swinney said he has watched Ohio State play "several times" this year because of how often the Buckeyes played at noon. "They're just impressive. Built in the trenches, impressive on both sides. They've got as good of players as there is in college football."
  • On Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields: "Their quarterback has been amazing."
  • Swinney said he believes his team has played "extremely well" and has been dominant all season, even early in the year, though he acknowledged they had some issues with turnovers early in the year.
  • On Alabama missing the College Football Playoff this year: "I guarantee you they'll be back real soon."
  • Audio issues with Swinney's end of the call made it difficult to hear many of his answers.
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