Beginning Wednesday, Clemson will have less practice and meeting time than Alabama as both teams prepare for the National Championship Game, but coach Dabo Swinney said having to adhere to the 20-hour rule will have no effect on Monday’s game.
Clemson begins the spring semester on Wednesday and is limited to a maximum of four hours of meeting/practice time per day. Alabama’s spring semester doesn’t start until Jan. 13, so the Crimson Tide can practice and meet as much as they like.
“People make a big deal out of that,” Swinney said. “First of all, Wednesday and Thursday they’ve got a little bit more time. Maybe they can have an extra meeting, something like that. Maybe they can do a walk-through in the morning and maybe a little extra film session. But I think at this point, to be honest with you, more isn’t better. I kind of believe in the less is more.”
Swinney pointed out that the Tigers will not have class Friday, and Clemson and Alabama will have the same schedule leading up to the game once they arrive in Arizona on Friday.
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As for Wednesday and Thursday, he does not believe it will hurt Clemson’s preparations.
“It’s all the same Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. That’s all the same,” Swinney said. “Our guys, they’re used to going to school anyway. That’s what they do. … They haven’t had any problem balancing that type of stuff, so I wouldn’t make a big deal out of that. If they beat us, it’s not going to be because they had two extra meetings or an extra walk-through on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s going to be because they just beat us.”
Clemson’s players agreed that the rule is not an excuse but also said it doesn’t make sense for one team to have more practice time than another.
“I don’t know if it’s fair or not, but life’s not fair. That’s just how it worked out,” defensive tackle D.J. Reader said. “I think we’re pretty excited to just get after it with 20 hours or whatever, but we’ll put our extra time in individually. We won’t back off of it because we don’t have enough time. We’ll get enough time to be ready to play.”
Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware said he would not be surprised to see a change in the rule.
“I don’t really care. That’s the hand we’ve been dealt, and we’ve got to deal with it,” the junior said. “They’ll probably change it in the next couple of years when they figure out it’s unfair, but we can’t do anything about it this year.”
Who: Clemson (14-0) vs. Alabama (13-1)
When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
Line: Alabama by 7