CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday neither he nor his players are in favor of an expanded 12-team College Football Playoff, but he also knows that change is inevitably coming to the format.
In his first news conference since the CFP board of managers authorized commissioners to move forward with expanding from four to 12 teams, Swinney said he was not surprised at the move to add more teams, noting he was also against a four-team playoff.
“I knew when it went to four, it was going to become all about the playoff, and when it goes to 12, it’s going to become more about the playoff, but it’s inevitable,” Swinney said. “Some people will say, ‘Well you’ve been in the playoff. If we can get in with four, we’re going to get in with 12.’ Our odds aren’t going to go down, so it’s not about that.
“Our team isn’t for it. They don’t want to play more games. And to be honest with you, I don’t know if there’s 12 teams good enough. So you’re going to play more games just to play more games. And I think the more you expand it, the less important the season becomes and the more you become the NFL, as far as all right, you’re in the playoffs? Well, you know, why play Trevor [Lawrence] in this game if you’re already in? All of a sudden you’re not in the top 12 and kids just aren’t playing.”
Clemson has thrived in the College Football Playoff era, with six straight appearances and two national championships. Clemson president Jim Clements also serves on the CFP board of managers, which has final say over expansion. ACC athletic directors are scheduled to meet before ACC kickoff begins Wednesday and hear the 12-team expansion presentation from Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick so they can bring additional information back to their coaches and players.
After the CFP agreed to move forward with expansion, ACC commissioner Jim Phillips asked all coaches to get feedback from their players. North Carolina coach Mack Brown said earlier this month his players were also against a 12-team playoff. Swinney said he thought his players’ perspective was important because they already know how it feels to play a 15-game season.
But he also knows that change is coming no matter how they feel, and as players get more used to the idea, perhaps they will change how they feel about expansion.
“It’s just a complicated adjustment for everybody,” Swinney said. “But there’s a bunch of smart people working on it. They’ll figure it out, come up with something good for everybody. But from our guys, they’ve got a lot of experience, and they have a very good perspective of the schedule, and what it takes.”
As Clemson approaches the season with another trip to the playoff in its sights, Swinney was asked about the current status of player vaccinations on his team.
Swinney said he was vaccinated in March, and though his team is not 100% vaccinated, it was “headed in a good direction.”
“I think there’s more motivation for all these teams, as they get back going,” Swinney said. “We’ve done everything we can to educate and provide great information, and encourage these guys to talk to all the doctors. That was the biggest thing for me. I don’t know a single doctor that I talked to that said don’t get it. They all said you need to get it, and I trust my doctor. So that’s a decision everybody’s got to make. Our team’s in a good spot. Not quite where we need to be, but I think we’ll get there.”