ESPN's Finebaum on No. 1 Clemson's run: "It's been remarkable"
|2017-12-13 21:27:42.0- -||
ESPN’s Paul Finebaum has had no shortage of opinions on Clemson (and Clemson fans) this season.
It started preseason, then the SEC Network regular called out Clemson fans in October - and took a swipe at the Tigers again after the Syracuse loss. In a course correction, he also talked up Clemson’s schedule and Dabo Swinney shortly after on a one-loss path to the Playoff that panned out.
What’s his takeaway from the No. 1 Tigers’ run to a rematch with Alabama?
“It’s been remarkable,” Finebaum said on his radio show this week. “They started the season No. 5 and I can’t remember how many people asked if they were the most overrated team in the polls. Quite frankly, I thought maybe they were a little bit high, but we fixated on Deshaun Watson and what we forgot to fixate on was the defensive line which is almost NFL-like and wreaked havoc across the board. Also Dabo continues to do a masterful job.
"We saw the first sign of it against Auburn – and yes, they had that hiccup when Kelly Bryant was banged-up at Syracuse and they’ve had some close games, but they closed big.”
The Tigers and Crimson Tide are set for a third-straight Playoff matchup with the Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1 (8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN), after two classic games. While Finebaum calls Alabama’s Nick Saban “the best coach in college football and arguably the greatest coach of all time,” he says there could be talk that Saban is “slipping” with another title-game loss to Clemson.
“When you put the (Playoff) coaches all together, Saban looks a little like Methuselah,” Finebaum said with a smile. “Dabo isn’t exactly young compared to Kirby (Smart) and Lincoln (Riley), but that’s what’s at stake other than the semifinals is if Saban loses to Dabo again, people will start to whisper that he’s slipping a little bit.
“I know how my colleagues react. Especially the hot take experts who just want to say something just to say it. Nick Saban will take a lot of that. Not that this is a big deal because we expect Alabama to win almost every year, but he doesn’t win…since (the) 2012 (season), that would mean Alabama – and I say this with a straight face – would only have one national championship.
“That is a career for most people, and for Nick Saban, it’s a bitter disappointment. Considering they’ve been No. 1 everyone of those years at some point. And Dabo will have more (championships) than he would over this period – and that’s significant.”
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