Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney give final thoughts before Monday's College Football Playoff national championship
TAMPA - Alabama coach Nick Saban and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney held their final news conference before tomorrow's College Football Playoff national title game.
A few highlights from Sunday's session at the Tampa Convention Center:
* Swinney isn't surprised his Tigers are here. In fact, he told Saban in March that he'd see them in Tampa.
"I was excited about the leadership and the talented young players that might mix in," Swinney said. "I knew we had a guy like Dexter Lawrence coming in that I thought may have a chance to help us early. The chemistry that I saw develop in the spring and carry over into the summer, the accountability. So those are things that I was excited about.
"But most of all, Deshaun Watson. I mean, I felt like he was the best player in the country coming back, and the type of worker he is and leader, you know, you've always got a chance when you can surround a great quarterback with a good cast."
*Saban doesn't seem to mind a shorter turnaround than what the teams had last year between the semifinals and the title game. Last year's semis were on Friday; this year's were on Saturday. "I think that this year's turnaround was probably a little closer to what a normal regular season would be relative to the number of practice days you have for a game. It's more challenging preparation that way. But at the same time, I think the routine for the players is probably a little more satisfying."
*I wrote in today's Tampa Bay Times about Swinney's connection with former Rays manager Joe Maddon, so my ears perked up when Swinney paraphrased another Maddonism: "Don't let the pressure of the moment and the situation cause you to lose any pleasure. Have some pleasure, too." Maddon puts it more succinctly: Don't let the pressure exceed the pleasure.