The Alabama-Clemson “rivalry” formed on excellence (meeting in the national championship game three times in four years) has noticeably lacked the trash talk and bitterness that comes in many rivalries. Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban go out of their way to compliment the other and talk about their friendship and mutual admiration. From the players, there were no headline-grabbing quotes turned into bulletin board material ahead of the game. One quote, after Monday’s game, however is raising eyebrows Thursday.
A new Sports Illustrated feature features a quote from Tigers WR Hunter Renfrow that talks about doing things the right way:
“Coach Swinney has built it on fun, and obviously Coach Saban has built it on a process. I’m just so proud of being at a place like Clemson, where I feel like we’ve done it the right way. If we’re supposed to have only five guys on the field as coaches, we’re making sure we have five. We’re not doing it the wrong way and we’re having fun doing it.”
It’s the “five guys on the field as coaches” part that is getting the most attention. Considering the full quote opens with comparing Swinney and Saban, the end portion of the quote appears to be accusing Alabama of breaking the NCAA’s rule about on-field coaches in games and practice. The NCAA officially allows 10 on-field assistants who “may participate in any manner in the coaching of the intercollegiate team of a member institution during any football game, practice or other organized activity.” Renfrow’s quote is being interpreted as implying that some of Alabama’s analysts are working in practice as on-field coaches. Clemson has exactly five offensive assistant coaches.