Clemson's Dabo Swinney disputes SEC commissioner Greg Sankey's suggestion that ACC protecting top teams

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Sunday that he has "no doubt" that his Tigers and Notre Dame are both among the four best teams in the country, shrugging off complaints by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey that the ACC is protecting its prized programs by giving them Dec. 12 off.

On Saturday, Sankey was critical of the ACC's decision to not reschedule games for Clemson or Notre Dame -- giving both teams an open date in advance of their showdown in the ACC championship game -- noting that the SEC had played nearly all of its scheduled games. It was a bit of politicking as both leagues hope to get two teams into the College Football Playoff.

"If the ACC was trying to really protect Clemson and Notre Dame, why would we even play a game this week?" Swinney said. "I mean, if six wins can get you in the playoff, shouldn't nine get you there? Shouldn't 10 get you there?"

Swinney was referencing 5-0 Ohio State, which appears on course to earn a playoff bid if it wins the Big Ten championship on Saturday. Clemson is 9-1 this season, with its lone loss coming in double overtime to 10-0 Notre Dame.

The Irish are ranked second in the most recent committee rankings, and the Tigers are third.

The SEC's top contenders -- No. 1 Alabama and No. 5 Texas A&M -- will both have completed 10-game conference schedules, while Notre Dame and Clemson each played one game out of conference. Notre Dame had its game against Wake Forest canceled because of COVID-19 issues, and Clemson saw its game against Florida State nixed just hours before kickoff because of a delayed result on a positive test.

Neither game was rescheduled by the league.

"I would've loved to play this past weekend," Swinney said. "I had no problem with that. I didn't make the decision. We wanted to play when we were down in Tallahassee and were about to get on a bus and go play. Things happen."

Swinney said that both teams earned their way into the ACC's championship game and that based on the outcome, both teams have a legitimate claim to a playoff berth that could result in a third showdown between the two.

"We want to crown a worthy champion," Swinney said. "It's going to be an awesome game. We've played 10 games, Notre Dame has played 10 games, and we're excited to play for a championship, crown a worthy champion for this league and go from there. We want to go play the game."