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December 4, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon to everyone. On behalf of the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, we look forward to welcoming Clemson and Ohio State to Glendale later this month.
We'll get started with opening statements first from Coach Swinney, then turn it over for questions.
COACH SWINNEY: Thank you, everybody, for the opportunity here today. We are incredibly excited to be a part of the Fiesta Bowl, to return out to Arizona. We had a little taste of it last year. I barely remember it. It was a quick trip. We're looking forward to having a little more extended time and being a part of the community and being part of a great, great ballgame.
I'm thankful for our team, the season we've had. I'm happy for our fans, our president, AD, board, everyone that supports us in what we try to do.
Again, appreciate the playoff committee and their confidence in us as one of the four best teams. We look forward, again, to traveling out and having a great time. I got a lot of respect for Ohio State and Coach Meyer. Had a chance to get to know he and his wife over the last several years. Think the world of them.
We know this will be a very difficult matchup. You don't get to be in the final four unless you're a team that's capable of winning it all. Should be a great matchup, a great game. Once again, I just thank all of you out there in Arizona and all the work that the people put in to make this a great experience and venue for both of these teams. We look forward to being a part of it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up now for questions.
Q. Dabo, what kind of achievement is it for your program to get back to the College Football Playoff for a second straight year? What really in your mind separates this team, what's the difference for this team down the stretch?
COACH SWINNEY: Well, I mean, it's an incredible achievement. We really are just soaking in winning the ACC championship in back-to-back years. That hasn't happened in 28 years around here, so that's hard. Then to be recognized with an opportunity to be in the playoff back-to-back years, it's a huge achievement.
The only thing that would make it better would be to win it all. I'm proud of our guys. A lot of hard work has gone into it.
As far as the difference in the teams, last year's team was incredibly driven and motivated to finish and to earn the right. We were the No. 1 seed going in last year. This team came back, had a different type of expectation on it, coming off of a national championship appearance. I think they've handled it well.
We've set out to be right here where we are. It ended this way last year, and we're going into the playoffs this way this year. At the end of the day we know every play is a championship play from this point forward. Not a lot of room for error.
We'll have great preparation. We're excited about continuing our journey and competing.
Q. Dabo, yesterday after the game a couple of your players were talking about how in some games this year you built big leads, then let teams in. This is something they want to make sure doesn't keep happening. Is this something you can address now during bowl preparation?
COACH SWINNEY: Well, I think 'let' is a big word. The other team has good players, too, and good coaches. Sometimes the other team makes some plays.
I think the big thing for us this year, with last night really being the win different game, when we won that margin, we haven't really been in close games. Last night we won the margin and it was still a close game. That's a credit to Virginia Tech. They're champions, too. It's not about just, We just let them back in. We had big leads. But those guys fought back.
I don't think that we were complacent or anything like that, but those guys made some plays, some well-designed plays. They played with a lot of fight and heart and they worked their way back into it. At the end of the day we finished it off.
We just want to find a way to win at this point forward. It's not about anything but having one more point than the opponent.
Q. Dabo, do you have an opinion, would you like to see it stay at four teams for the playoffs or could you see another week adding some intrigue, four relegated games?
COACH SWINNEY: I've thought about this many times. I think right now we have the best, in my opinion. I thought the BCS was good, to be honest with you. But I like the bowls. I've always liked the fact there's a lot of teams out there that have an opportunity to finish on a winning note. The tradition, I love that.
I think that we have the best sport out there because every game truly matters. If we keep expanding, then all of a sudden to me the season will get very watered down and it becomes the NFL. You lose two, three games. Well, if your brand is strong enough, it doesn't matter, you still get a shot at the playoff at the end.
I think that right now every game matters. It makes it such an intriguing season. Whether you go to eight, then nine, ten, it doesn't matter. But the main thing is something would have to change. You'd probably have to do away with championship games. I just don't think you can go past 15 games in college football. I think that is a lot on these guys. It's a long season. So something would have to give, either the championship games go away, or you go to an 11-game season, add another layer to the playoffs or whatever.
To me, like I said, we've been in the playoffs every week. Every single week we've been in the playoffs since the season started. Winning the division, then having to go win your championship, now having to go to the playoffs, it's just one layer after another.
I understand both sides of it, I've been a part of it for a long time. Like I said, I thought for the most part the BCS got it right. That was more of a challenge to get in the top two. At the end of the day I think they got it right and I think there's a lot of teams out there that get opportunities to go and win a bowl championship, to finish on a positive note, have momentum going into their new season.
That's just my opinion. I'm a part of it. Whatever happens happens. We'll just keep playing. I think to go beyond 15 games, I'm not a fan of that.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, we appreciate your time today. We will let you go. Again, we look forward to seeing you in Glendale later this year.
COACH SWINNEY: Thank you. Good to be with you.
THE MODERATOR: At this time we welcome Coach Meyer to our conference call.
Coach, welcome and congratulations. We'd ask that you provide us with an opening statement, then we'll turn it over to questions.
COACH MEYER: Well, thank you. On behalf of Ohio State football, the Big Ten Conference, honored to be back to the desert again with so many people I know, one of the great bowl experiences I've ever been a part of I believe three other times.
It's great to be here. I understand how hard it is to make the playoffs. We're humbled and honored to represent The Ohio State University. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll turn it over to questions for Coach Meyer.
Q. J.T. came into the room after you and joked about not being on the scooter for the playoffs this time. It's obvious that having a healthy quarterback for this go around. With your relationship with J.T., does it mean a little bit more to have him around for this run compared to a couple years ago?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, he was an incredible contributor to our playoff run two years ago, even when he wasn't playing. Obviously he had a great year as a redshirt freshman. His leadership skills, once again, his ability to help Cardale for those big games was remarkable.
J.T. is like a son to me. I love him. He knows it. We're very close. I'm anxious to watch him prepare for this big-time game.
Q. Talk about your relationship with Dabo Swinney. I know you coached against him at the Orange Bowl a couple years ago. What type of coach is he?
COACH MEYER: He's obviously a great coach, great recruiter. He's a good friend. His wife and I and Shelly are very close. Every year we get together on one of those Nike trips.
I think we have a lot in common. We have a lot of the same beliefs. I have a lot of respect for Dabo.
Q. How different a day was this for you? Did you ever think you'd be watching the selection process in a maternity ward?
COACH MEYER: Well, yeah, I'm very strong in my faith. I understand it's an incredible blessing. And, no, I never thought I'd be watching a college football championship selection committee picking our school as my daughter gives birth.
Once again, I sit back sometimes and realize how grateful I am, really grateful for my daughter and son-in-law. They're going to be a great mom and dad.
Q. Can you talk about how thin the margin of victory is, the margin for error is, especially for you and Clemson, that have gotten to this game, and what it takes to get over the hump in those close games?
COACH MEYER: Well, it's incredible. I mentioned today at the press conference Billy Donovan used to tell me what a grind March Madness was. Football coaches at this level, it's March Madness every week.
We had a couple close calls. I know Clemson had a few close calls. There were some very deserving teams out there that it could go either way. So it's razor thin.
The good thing is everybody appreciates that. When I hear people interviewed, there's a great appreciation. I have appreciation for what that committee went through. I was thinking about it last night. Imagine the decision they had to make that impacts so many people.
It's razor thin and we all appreciate it.
Q. What is your take on the Big Ten champion not making the playoff? Do you have a little bit of sympathy or empathy for Penn State? Do you think there's a way to get to a system where maybe all five champions have a spot in the playoff?
COACH MEYER: I do. I watch the game much differently now than I did when I was younger. I always watch the players. You couldn't have asked for a greater game yesterday.
I know Penn State very well. I have tremendous respect for them. Every game we've ever played with them has been a dogfight. You wake up every day to become a champion of your conference.
But the people wanted a College Football Playoff. I wish there was a way. But there's five conference champions, and there's a whole regular season before your conference season that you have to play, too. I'm not sure there's an easy answer.
I was part of the BCS twice, too. I remember 2006, it was a dogfight to get into that game. There's a lot of controversy about that, as well.
I'm not sure there's an easy answer. I know the interest has never been stronger in college football. I think we're heading in the right direction.
But to answer your question, absolutely. You feel for a Big Ten champion, champs of any conference, that didn't make it in.
Q. Listening to the guys breaking down the matchup between yourself and Clemson, the comment that keeps coming back is how Ohio State is going to have to be more productive offensively. You had 17 points against Michigan State, 17 in regulation against Michigan, very good defense. What will you do in this month to deconstruct and reconstruct your offense, perhaps be able to be more productive in terms of passing the ball?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, we're going to do quite a bit. It's not just passing the ball. We have to protect. We have to do a better job running the ball, too. I think we ran for 200 some yards against our rivals. That's definitely why we're going to practice. We have a bunch of new starters that have a whole year under their belt now, so we should be getting better.
We're going to be working really hard because you're right, we have to be very productive on offense in this game.
Q. Mike Weber had a thousand yards this year but really wasn't in against Michigan. Is everything okay with him? Was there a reason why he didn't get more than eight or ten carries in that game?
COACH MEYER: No, he's healthy. He's ready to go. We're going to use him in this game. Just the way the game unfolded, they were very heavy. They're not a good defense, but a great defense. Hard to run the ball against. A lot of times in that situation, you try to do some run-pass options with your quarterback, is how we really got a lot of our yards. That seemed to be working. That's what we went with.
Q. What are your first impressions of Clemson on each side of the ball?
COACH MEYER: Well, I got to watch them last night. I know Clemson. I know Clemson very well. I study Clemson just because I like what they do offensively. I know their players from recruiting. I know their staff.
We have in the dug into them yet as far as game planning. But I have a pretty good indication of what they are. As talented a team as there is in college football.
Q. What do you think are the biggest things you're going to have to work on during bowl practices to prepare?
COACH MEYER: Well, their skill level... It's going to be a good matchup. Our secondary is very good. From everything I'm hearing, these are the three or four best receivers we'll ever face. Obviously a great quarterback, a nice balanced offense. That side of the ball is going to be a great matchup with their skill against ours.
Offensively we faced some good defenses and had a tough weather game. But we have to get back to where we were against Nebraska, great balance, mixing up the run and the pass, protecting that quarterback.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Meyer, we thank you for your time today. Again, congratulations to you and your team. We look forward to seeing you in the Valley of the Sun later this year.
COACH MEYER: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports