It has been nearly six months since Alabama defeated Clemson for the 2015 season’s College Football Playoff championship.
And Tigers coach Dabo Swinney is still left commenting on what could have been for his team during the Crimson Tide’s 45-40 victory in Glendale, Ariz.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Thayer Evans, Swinney reaffirmed his belief that the Tigers played well enough to win the national championship, but fell just a few plays short.
Here’s Swinney’s complete answer about coping with the loss to his alma mater:
Campus Rush:Now that you’ve had some time, what’s your takeaway from just how close you were to beating your alma mater, Alabama, in the College Football Playoff championship?
Dabo Swinney: Everything in life is how you respond to it. If everything went perfect all the time—you never lost a game, you got to the championship every time, you always won, you always got the top recruit, you always made the A—you really wouldn’t truly appreciate all that goes into it. Our guys have responded well. As I’ve said many times, it’s one thing to dream about something, it’s another thing to experience it. It’s one thing to think you’re good enough, it’s another thing to know you’re good enough. We didn’t win the game obviously, but I think our brand won. I don’t know how to explain that other than Alabama has been kind of the standard. When you consider we out-rushed, out-passed, out-gained, out-sacked, out-tackled-for-loss them, we really played great, outside of four plays defensively. Physically, we matched up. We had a lot of things validated for our program.
The numbers do back up a lot of what Swinney said.
The Tigers had 550 yards of total offense against the vaunted Alabama defense, including 405 yards passing and four touchdowns from quarterback Deshaun Watson.
And while Crimson Tide fans were joyous in the wake of victory, even the most hardcore supporters are likely to admit that the Tigers matched the Crimson Tide punch for punch throughout most of the contest.
Swinney will get the chance to see how the 2016 version of his team stacks up against SEC competition from the very beginning of the season, as the Tigers open against Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 3.