TAMPA, FLA. – Clemson’s Dabo Swinney became only the second person to win an Associated Press national championship as a player and a head coach.
Swinney won a championship in 1992 as a receiver for Alabama and then led the Tigers to their 35-31 victory over undefeated Alabama on Monday night.
Bud Wilkinson won a national title as a player for Minnesota in 1936 and was the coach of three title teams at Oklahoma in the 1950s.
Others helped their schools win national championships as players and then captured crowns as coaches — Bear Bryant, Jimmy Johnson and Frank Leahy among them — but either the AP poll had not started or their titles were not recognized by the AP.
Saban’s run ends
Alabama coach Nick Saban had won nine consecutive championship games before losing to Clemson.
Since 2009, Saban had been 5-0 in SEC title games and 4-0 in national championship games. His last loss in a championship game before Monday was in 2008, when Florida beat the Crimson Tide for the SEC crown.
Alabama lost running back Bo Scarbrough to a lower right leg injury earlier the third quarter.
Before leaving the game, Scarbrough had rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Facing fourth-and-1 at the Alabama 43 midway through the third quarter, Clemson didn’t go for a conversion. Instead, quarterback Deshaun Watson took a snap in the shotgun and pooched a kick toward the end zone. It was downed at the Alabama 5.
Two hours before kickoff, the asking price for seats on StubHub ranged from $1,899 in the upper deck to $11,748 each for 10 tickets on the club level of Raymond James Stadium, where about 6,000 temporary seats were brought in to boost capacity to about 70,000.
The third CFP was a particularly hot ticket, in part because it was a rematch of last year’s title game, won by Alabama.
The campuses of both schools are less than 600 miles from Tampa, making it a manageable drive for fans.
Alabama failed to become the first college football team in the modern era to finish 15-0. Yale won 15 games in 1889 and 16 games in 1894. Penn won 15 games in both 1892 and 1897.
Clemson put up 511 yards on Alabama’s defense and held the ball for nearly 35 minutes.