CLEMSON— Maybe, just maybe the Clemson Tigers are finally off of the R.O.Y. Bus that head football coach Dabo Swinney has proclaimed they had been on.
Even after dismantling the Alabama Crimson Tide, 44-16, on their way to winning their second national championship in the last three seasons, Swinney was still adamant that it was Alabama and the “rest of y’all.”
"We drove the ROY (Rest Of Y'all, after Alabama) bus all the way out here to wherever the heck in California we are to play a football game in a beautiful stadium and a beautiful place," Swinney said. "We're proud members of the ROY bus, so for all them other teams out there on that bus, hey listen, I hope that you get a little hope from us and a little inspiration that if we can do it, anybody can do it.”
But after listening to the national media questioning what happened to the mighty Crimson Tide on the night of Jan. 7, Swinney believes he may have the answer—the Tigers were the better team.
"This team was dominant. I mean just dominant,” Swinney said. “It’s been interesting all the riding around in the car and listening to the radio and it has been fascinating to me to hear some of the comments. Everyone wants to explain what happened to Alabama instead of how about Clemson just had the better team. They really didn’t do anything different than they had done all year.
“They won 13 games by 20 plus. They won their state championship by three touchdowns. They won the ACC championship by four touchdowns. Then they won by four touchdowns in the Cotton Bowl. Then they win by four touchdowns in the national championship game. All they did was do what they have done all year.”
While Swinney may not be ready to change the bus title to Clemson and the rest of y’all, he finally admitted that he never doubted that his Tigers were the best team in the nation heading into national championship game.
"People just didn’t really pay attention," he said. "Nothing happened to Alabama. They just played a better team that day. Simple as that. Alabama is unbelievable. They were 14-1. They did an amazing job. Amazing job. We just had the better team. That was my message before the game as I told them early - ‘We got the best team in the country right here.’ I’ve told them that all year. ‘Tonight you get a chance to prove it,’ and that’s what they did, and they left no doubt."
Swinney is not the only member of the coaching staff that has become befuddled by the question: What happened to Alabama?
In fact, according to quarterback’s coach and recruiting coordinator Brandon Streeter, the the Tigers are the premier team in college football right now—not Alabama.
“Obviously, Alabama is an unbelievable program. But we're the best one right now,” Streeter said. “And it's hard to argue that. It's so neat to see our team this year, and especially our seniors, go through that transition of losing to them in 2015, beating them in 2016, and then losing to them again in 2017 and then going out on a high note and beating them this past year. I think it's a big statement, winning by four touchdowns.”