College Football national championship: 7 things you may not know about Alabama, Clemson
Here we go again.
Clemson takes on Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). It's a battle of two Southern football powerhouses that might look eerily familiar to many. But maybe not too familiar.
Here are seven things you may not know about this repeat battle:
1. This will be only the 17th time they've played.
In the long history of college football, Clemson and Alabama have played each other only 16 times. (For contrast, Lafayette and Lehigh have played 152 times in what is billed as the sport's most-played and longest continual rivalry.) Alabama owns the series against Clemson 13-3, with wins in the last 13 contests, seven of which were shutouts. The Tide has outscored the Tigers 435-94 over that span, according to Alabama Athletics. The Tigers haven't taken down the Tide since 1905, when they blanked them 25-0.
The two teams have met only twice since 1975, according to Clemson Athletics, once in the season opener of 2008 and again in last year's national championship game.
2. Dabo Swinney is an Alabama grad.
In 1993, Clemson’s head coach officially became a Bama graduate, with a degree in commerce and business administration. The walk-on wide receiver lettered for three years with the Tide, playing on the 1992 national title team. After earning his degree, according to Clemson Athletics, he was the Crimson Tide’s graduate assistant coach, then moved up to be the wide receiver/tight end coach in 1996. He stayed with Alabama until 2000 when he, along with the rest of Mike DuBose's staff, was fired.
Swinney is not the only Clemson coach to have been on both sides of this rivalry. Danny Pearman, assistant head coach, special teams coach and tight ends coach, coached at Alabama from 1990 to 1997, serving on the staff when Alabama won the National Championship in 1992.
3. Clemson already has sold its ticket allotment of 17,500 seats.
Clemson fans travel well. On Tuesday, officials confirmed that the school’s allotment of 17,500 tickets for the championship have been sold.
“There’s no doubt our fan base is fired up about the National Championship, and we’ve worked diligently to ensure as many of our loyal fans had an opportunity to purchase as possible,” said Clemson’s director of athletics, Dan Radakovich, per Clemson Athletics.
4. This is the first championship rematch since a title game was introduced.
ESPN Stats and Info reported that Act Two of Clemson-Alabama is the first rematch since the title game was introduced with the beginning of the BCS era in 1998.
Clemson-Alabama is first championship game rematch since the title game was introduced with the BCS in 1998 #CFBPlayoff— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 1, 2017
5. Alabama’s coaching staff has Clemson ties, too.
Connections between the two teams, are plentiful according to Alabama Athletics. The Tide has two important coaches who once worked for Clemson.
The Crimson Tide’s associate head coach and running backs coach Burton Burns coached the Tigers' running backs from 1999-2006, helping produce six of the top-10 offenses in program history. Alabama wide receivers coach Billy Napier served in several roles for the Tigers, from recruiting coordinator to offensive coordinator, for seven seasons.
6. These are two pretty smart teams.
Alabama Athletics also reported that Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick and linebacker Keith Holcombe were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team. Fitzpatrick boasts a 3.34 GPA and Holcombe a 3.69 in Human Performance/Exercise Science.
Both have made an impressive impact on the field, too. Fitzpatrick posted 62 tackles, six interceptions (two for touchdowns) and a sack, and Holcombe recorded 22 tackles this season.
Overall, Alabama ranks fifth among AP preseason top-25 teams for its 80 percent graduation rate. The only teams ahead of the Tide are Stanford, Virginia Tech, Temple and Alabama's rival on Monday, Clemson.
A battle of wits, anyone?
7. This game is made for the digital age.
On Dec. 27, the CFP announced that it was working on multiple digital initiatives for the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. Fans can fire up a game day app that features exclusive experiences including an augmented reality trophy experience, in which you can see yourself holding the championship trophy. YourMoji and Twitter also are onboard to create custom CFP emojis across various messaging and social media platforms.