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December 26, 2016

Wayne Gallman

Dabo Swinney

Christian Wilkins

Glendale, Arizona

THE MODERATOR: Join me in welcoming Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, running back Wayne Gallman and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins.

COACH SWINNEY: We're right off the plane here, and excited to be here. It really is fun to be back in Arizona and fun to be able to be here for longer than 48 hours. Seems like, when we came in for the national championship last year, I really don't remember much about it it was such a blur.

I'm excited for not only myself but for these players to have a great opportunity to have great preparation here, but also experience a new part of the country.

Like I said we didn't get to do a whole lot when we were out here but get ready to play the game. So we're really ready to go. We had a good practice this morning in Clemson. Believe it or not, it was hot back in Clemson. And so it's good to get back out here and enjoy some good weather. But we've had great preparation. This is game week, obviously, and one day under our belt.

So we're very appreciative of the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl folks and everyone, the committee and the volunteers and everybody who does so much to make this a great event and a great experience for everyone involved, especially the opportunity to practice where we're practicing. It's a great venue for us. Incredible stadium that we get to play in, and we're just looking forward to it. Look forward to spending the week with all of you.


Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about unfinished business, so to speak, here in the desert, considering what happened last year when you were here? Does it feel like unfinished business or does it feel like this is just another opportunity?
COACH SWINNEY: Well, yeah, that was last year. Different team. Unfortunately, a lot of those guys aren't with us anymore. We missed an opportunity last year.

We certainly had a chance to win it all. And we didn't quite finish like we needed to. And give Alabama the credit for that. They earned it.

But this is a new team, a new season, and it's a new opportunity. So as I always say last year's success doesn't get it done this year. You've got to earn it all over again and this is the playoff. This is the bowl experience and the playoff and the opportunity to earn another game.

You've got to win this one to get to another one. So for us it's just a great opportunity and a huge challenge with Ohio State. We all know what type of program they are and their coaches and so forth.

But we're just looking forward to it. It's what it's all about.

Q. Coach, it's that time of year. Did everybody make the trip and is everybody healthy?
COACH SWINNEY: Everybody made the trip that I know of. I don't think we left anybody back there. We had two planes. So I was on one of them. So unless somebody missed the flight on the other one, everybody was there.

That's one thing, we had a couple of days off for the Christmas break. And a lot of guys traveling and so forth. But we actually had a team meeting this morning at 9.00 a.m. Everybody was there early and ready to go. And again had good meetings and an excellent Monday-type practice for us. So off to a good start.

Q. Coach, can you talk about taking on Ohio State in the semifinal matchup?
COACH SWINNEY: Well, great program. This is Ohio State. I think that their brand speaks for themselves. They've earned that. I think percentage-wise they're the winningest team in the country since, like, 1950.

So program-wise, they're right there at the top. And then their coaching staff is tremendous. I know several of those guys and got a lot of respect for Coach Meyer. He rarely ever loses.

We were joking back at Clemson it's like Knute Rockne and Meyer are the two winningest coaches ever. So they're where everybody wants to be from a brand standpoint and some of the achievements that they've had.

We're a program that's very proud of what we've been able to do and the consistency especially the last six-plus years. But we want to get to the top of the mountain. And you don't -- nobody gives you that. You've got to go and earn it and you've got to beat the best, and they certainly represent that.

Q. How does it feel to be back here in Arizona?
WAYNE GALLMAN: This feels really good. This is an opportunity that we've got to take care of. Last year you know what happened. And we're just really blessed to have that opportunity to be back here so it's just a blessing.

CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, I'm definitely looking forward to being back here. You know, it's nice to come back. Long trip and everything. And just happy to play another game, just have another opportunity here in the final four, very blessed, fortunate to be back.

Q. For Wayne or Christian, does it feel more like a business trip than last year's playoff run or is it about the same.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: It's about the same. We've got a job to do, so we're going to take care of business, prep hard and treat it like any other game. We know it's a big game in the eyes of everyone, but we're going to treat it like every other game and take care of business.

WAYNE GALLMAN: Same thing what Christian said, there's really no change in any game we play in. Next game is the next championship. So gotta play our best.

Q. Urban Meyer has talked very highly of you, complimentary of you, what is your relationship? How well do you know him?
COACH SWINNEY: I know him pretty well now. I actually, when I was an assistant, in 2004, I believe, I flew out to Utah for three days, and stayed in the hotel that the basketball coach lived in, Majerus, Coach Majerus. That was a pretty cool trip. I had never been out to Utah. It was a cool experience.

But I learned a lot in those few days. But then he went to Florida and didn't -- was never really around him a whole lot other than in recruiting. But when I got the job as the head coach and then he got out, he got into the TV stuff and came to a -- came to Clemson. He'd never been to Clemson. I had an opportunity to visit with him on a couple different occasions get to know him differently. He was kind of on a two-year studying tour, if you will, and I think Clemson was a place that opened his eyes a little bit.

But mostly as a Nike school, Nike takes us on a trip every February. And so really have got to know he and Shelley very well on the Nike trips. We kind of gravitated to each other. I pick his brain. He picks mine. We've had some great conversations.

We do a couple of golfing events together. So I've gotten to know him pretty well over the last four, five years. And then we're always recruiting against each other. So he's done a phenomenal job and just got his book. So try to get that thing read by the end of the week, see if I can -- "Above the Line." I gotta figure out, I'm looking for any little edge I can get. If you all got the Cliff Notes, shoot them my way.

Q. Wayne, what happened last week? Did something special -- did you graduate?
WAYNE GALLMAN: Yes, ma'am. (Applause).

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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