Over the past few weeks, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has argued that teams should be rewarded for playing in a season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and that teams that started later than others and didn't play as many games should be penalized from the College Football Playoffs Selection Committee.
While the selection committee ultimately decided the state of Ohio was among the top four teams in the sport, Swinney apparently didn't when he completed his final poll on the coaches poll.
Swinney, whose No. 2 Tigers will face the No. 3 Buckeyes in a CFP semi-final on New Year's Day (8 p.m. ET, ESPN / ESPN App) at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, had Ohio in 11th place its ranking final vote – lowest of the 61 FBS head coaches who took part in the poll.
The coaches' final ballots were released on USA Today Monday.
"I think the games are important," Swinney said during a conference call with reporters on Sunday. "The mental and physical strain of a season – there's no one out there who would say that someone who played 11 games is better physically than someone who played six games or anything because it's a long season. We're going into week 21. These guys haven't had a break. Not only was it a technical challenge, but also the mental challenge and the personal sacrifice and commitment that everyone had to make in order to be able to play and keep playing. It was incredible. "
The Tigers played 11 games; The Buckeyes only played six after the Big Ten postponed the start of the season until October 24 and three of the OSU games were canceled due to COVID-19 issues.
Swinney was one of eight coaches who left the Buckeyes out of the top four. Georgia's Kirby Smart had the Buckeyes in sixth place, six others in fifth, including Alabama's Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher of Texas A&M.
23 of the 61 coaches placed Notre Dame outside the top 4 after the Fighting Irish lost 34-10 in Saturday's ACC championship game against Clemson.
The Irish were number 4 on the final rankings of the CFP Selection Committee and will be featured in a CFP semi-final at the Rose Bowl game presented by Capital One in Arlington, Texas on New Years Day (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN / ESPN) Compete against Alabama No. 1 app). Todd Graham of Hawaii ranked the Irish in ninth place lower than any other coach.
23 coaches had Texas A&M in the top four while seven unbeaten Cincinnati in the top four – each a coach from a Group 5 program.
The Buckeyes probably didn't need much motivation after falling to the Tigers 29-23 in a CFP semi-final at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl last season.
"I think at the end of the day it's the one who does better and at the end plays harder," said Buckeyes coach Ryan Day on Sunday. "When you play in big games, you have to execute at a high level. That really matters. Both teams will play hard. Everything is at stake. Whoever executes better will make it." We have to do that. I'm not sure whether we played six, eight, ten or twelve. "