CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Dabo Swinney and his Clemson football program are 2-2 against Alabama and coach Nick Saban in the College Football Playoffs, leading Mark Richt to hold him in the highest regard.
“Dabo has done what Nick has done at Alabama, what Coach (Bobby) Bowden did at Florida State,” said Richt, now an analyst with the ACC Network. “He has risen to the top.”
Georgia will test itself against Swinney’s Tigers in both teams’ season-opening game at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium.
Richt, who finished his head coaching career at Miami in 2018, was Georgia’s head coach the most recent time the Bulldogs and Tigers clashed in football.
Georgia scored a 45-21 win in that 2014 meeting with a dominant second-half surge that left an impression on Swinney
“The last Georgia team I saw kicked our butt down in Athens, we got smashed,” Swinney said on Thursday at the ACC Media Days at the Westin Charlotte. “So hopefully this won’t be that version. They were really, really good.”
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Coach Kirby Smart has said the game will be a test for the Bulldogs, too, but pointed out Clemson is having to replace a “franchise quarterback” in 2021 No. 1 NFL Draft Pick Trevor Lawrence.
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Richt, however, doesn’t believe a major drop-off is imminent for Clemson.
“It looks like Clemson’s success will be sustainable,” Richt said. That’s because of the way he recruits and treats people.”
The Tigers have won the past six ACC Championships under Swinney’s direction, and they are the favorites to win the league again this season.
“Dynasties end when people get complacent, and I don’t see that happening,” Richt said.
“The other way dynasties end is when programs rise up and stop them. I see teams trying to do that, and they might catch him on a given Saturday, but they aren’t there yet.”