The Gap Between Dabo and Saban Closing Quickly

Want to see a debate break out? Here’s a way to do just that. Walk into a crowd of Clemson and Alabama fans and bring up the fact that last week CBS Sports put out their annual ranking of Power Five college football head coaches. Then tell them that, to no one’s surprise, there was no change in their top two from last season with Saban being ranked #1 and Dabo coming in at #2.

For the second year in a row, Nick Saban came in first with Clemson’s Dabo Swinney in second. The feeling is that he now trails Alabama’s head coach by an even smaller gap than he did last year. 

In a recent appearance on CBS Sports HQ, Fornelli weighed in on the debate over the #1 spot.

“You know, we’ve been doing this list for quite a few years and really every single year it was No. 1 Nick Saban. You didn’t really have to think about it, you just put him at the top. But the last couple of years, there has been a lot more thought going into it where it’s like you know, maybe it’s time to put Dabo above Saban. But at the end of the day for me and I think for the rest of our voters, the fact that Nick Saban still has six national titles compared to Dabo’s two is really the ultimate tiebreaker in that scenario because you have to think back to his time at LSU even before he got to Alabama.”

Fornelli went onto say:

“And with Swinney… the reason it’s getting closer in our minds – because I’ve talked to my fellow voters about it – we’re kind of all at the point where if Swinney wins another national title before Saban does, he’s probably going to be moved to the top of the rankings simply because in the College Football Playoff era, they both have two national titles. They’ve played each other four times in the Playoff, they’ve gone 2-2. And each time they’ve won a national title in this era, they’ve had to beat the other one to get there. So if we look at the situation going into 2020, Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, Clemson is going to be one of the favorites to win a national title. And you have to think, if they can win three national titles in five years, it’d be hard to argue against putting Dabo above Saban at that point.”

Dabo is entering his 13th season as Clemson’s head coach and has a 130-31 overall record with two national titles (2016 and 2018). He has also led the Tigers to five consecutive College Football Playoff appearances and has his program primed to make another title run in 2020.

Many Tiger fans feel that Swinney has already surpassed Saban during the College Football Playoff Era while Alabama fans will tell you that Saban is still on top, and it’s not even close. I, for one, do feel that Fornelli‘s pick is truly where they stand at #1 and #2 but the gap is steadily closing. The real question at this point is when will the two friends change spots?

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