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LeBron James calls out Dabo Swinney's No. 11 ranking of Ohio State as Buckeyes blow out Clemson

Nick Bromberg
·3-min read

LeBron James took notice of where Dabo Swinney had Ohio State in the coaches poll.

The Clemson coach ranked Ohio State at No. 11 ahead of the Sugar Bowl matchup between the Buckeyes and the Tigers. And as the Buckeyes were putting the finishing touches on a 49-28 blowout win over Clemson on Friday night to advance to the national title game, the Lakers star and noted Ohio State fan wanted it known that Swinney should have to justify his ranking after the game.

Ohio State got into the playoff because it was No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings — or eight spots ahead of where Swinney ranked it.

Why Swinney had Ohio State at No. 11

Swinney said that he didn’t have Ohio State in the top 10 because of the Buckeyes’ number of games in 2020. Friday night was OSU’s seventh game of the season. It was Clemson’s 12th. The Buckeyes should have entered the night with nine games played but they had three games canceled due to COVID-19. Two of those cancellations were due to opponents’ COVID-19 cases while one was due to Ohio State’s.

"There's no question Ohio State is good enough to beat us, to beat any of these four [teams in the playoff] and be the national champion," Swinney said last week in a news conference. "That's not a question at all. I didn't rank anybody who didn't play nine games or more in the top 10. That's why they were 11. I have all the respect in the world for Ohio State."

After the game, Swinney said he didn’t regret ranking Ohio State where he did.

“Polls have nothing to do with motivation,” Swinney said. “Both teams were highly motivated to play and they’re a great team as I said. That had nothing to do with Ohio State. I said they were good enough to beat us, good enough to win the whole dang thing and I didn’t think anybody that didn’t play at least nine games — in my poll — I wasn’t going to put them in the top 10. I wasn’t going to change that just because there was a chance we could play them.”

What Swinney said in September about the Big Ten

Swinney’s stance on game quantity is also a bit different than his position about the Big Ten and the College Football Playoff in September. Swinney said shortly after the Big Ten announced its eight-games-in-eight-weeks schedule that he was glad that the coaches and players in the conference would have the chance to compete for a playoff spot.

From The State on Sept. 16:

“I think it’s just a crazy year. Who knows how many games anybody is going to have,” Swinney said. “I think if they’d have started in November, I don’t think that would’ve been feasible. ... If they’re going to play eight or nine games or whatever, I think they certainly will have the opportunity to compete. I have no problem with that at all. You have some of the best teams in the country in that league. It’s not those players’ fault. It’s not those coaches’ fault. I’m just glad that they’re getting the opportunity to get back to playing.”

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney yells during the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game against Ohio State Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Clemson lost 49-28 to Ohio State. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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