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The two coaches, Ohio State’s Ryan Day and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, exchanged barbs in the lead-up to Friday’s College Football Playoff semifinal. Swinney ranked Ohio State 11th in his final Amway Coaches poll ballot and took a shot at the little preparation time needed to get ready for the Buckeyes due to their limited schedule. Day took a passive-aggressive dig at Clemson’s alleged signal-stealing, which is legal.
But there is a mutual respect between the two, and their wives may have something to do with it.
“I will say this, being at the bowl game last year, at the Fiesta Bowl, and then have the opportunity to go on a coaches’ trip this offseason with Dabo and his wife [Kathleen], they were very graceful to Nina and I,” Day said. “Being a young coach, and Nina trying to find her way as wife of the head coach at Ohio State, there’s only a few people in the country that really can share the same experiences. And they’ve been unbelievable to us just in terms of giving advice.”
On Thursday, when asked directly about Swinney ranking Ohio State 11th, Day joked he was happy the Clemson coach wasn’t on the playoff committee.
“It’s a very highly competitive environment we live in,” Day said. “That’s the way it goes. At the end of the day, we’re all human, and [we] appreciated the way that he really gave great counsel, and he’s been nothing but a pro.”
The key Ohio State players who were held out of the Big Ten championship game were back Friday night, but the Buckeyes still were without a number of important pieces.
While wide receiver Chris Olave, safety Marcus Hooker, linebacker Baron Browning and punter Drue Chrisman were active and expected to play, defensive end Zach Harrison, offensive guard Harry Miller and running back Master Teague were not, the team announced in its status report released before kickoff.
Ohio State does not offer a reason for inactive players.
Teague was second in rushing for Ohio State this year, running for 449 yards on 89 carries with six touchdown runs. Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon, who ran for 331 yards and two touchdowns in the Big Ten title game, would need to carry more of the load now.
Myles Murphy smiled when asked about where he was at this time last year and the opportunity he had to play in one of the year’s biggest games.
“It’s pretty surreal,” the Clemson true-freshman defensive end said. “It’s kind of funny to think that I was watching this exact game last year and now I’m in it. It’s very special being on the couch watching it and then the year after a great freshman season actually being in the game. So, it is a pretty surreal moment.”
Murphy, a consensus top-10 prospect coming out of high school, could become Clemson’s next big defensive star. He had a standout freshman season, tying linebacker Trenton Simpson for a team-high four sacks, and notching 35 tackles and three forced fumbles.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, attendance was capped at 3,000 fans. … This was the third time Ohio State and Clemson have met in the College Football Playoff. Only Clemson and Alabama have played more times in the playoff, facing each other four times, with three of those contests deciding the national champion.