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Joe Boozell | | January 7, 2017

What Alabama, Clemson said going into CFP title game

CFP National Championship: Alabama vs Clemson | Versus

The rematch is nearly upon us. Alabama and Clemson players and coaches gathered with hundreds of media members on Saturday morning to discuss Monday night’s national championship game.

There were fun moments. There were serious moments. Selfies were snapped. Nick Saban (almost) cracked a smile. Here’s what the newsmakers said and did ahead of the championship bout.

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Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, on College Football Playoff festivities:

“Yeah, I don't even think I remember last year. Yeah, this is great. This is awesome. Did we have all this last year? I can't remember. We did? I don't remember it. But it was great to see a bunch of Tiger fans in the stands, and it's exciting.”

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, asked if he’s having fun:

“I think you enjoy the challenge when you're in this position. Players have done a wonderful job all year of creating an opportunity for themselves, and as a coach, you want to do the best job that you can to try to put them in the best position where they have a chance to be successful, and that's always challenging, but it's always a lot of fun.”

Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, on what makes Saban happy:

“Coach likes winning. So if everybody else likes winning, coach will smile. So we love winning, too.”

Swinney, when asked to compare Clemson football to a famous sports movie series of the past:

“Did Rocky always win or did he lose one? He won the second one? There you go. Perfect.”

Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, on the Tide’s menatality:

"We're not here to have fun. We're here to win a championship."

Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware, on the Crimson Tide:

“We want to be the best, which means that we have to beat the best. And that's Alabama.”

Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, on if it’s surreal to be starting the national championship game as a freshman:

“I mean my dad told me yesterday he said he would never count me out. And that's kind of how I look at it. When people start to realize the type of person I am and see the dog in me, I guess they realize, okay, we can never go against this kid. I always say that I never put a limit on my game. And that's how I go about it. I never say I can't do nothing, I never say we can't do nothing as a team because I know the sky's the limit with us.”

Clemson defensive lineman Carlos Watkins, on what he does to keep freshman Dexter Lawrence in line:

“I throw him a Scooby Snack.”

Saban, on people he’s learned from:

“I probably learned this most from Coach Belichick when I was with him at Cleveland. I learned a little bit about (the preparation process) all the way through from some great mentors, but he was really a well-organized, process-oriented type guy, and was all about putting the players in the best chance to be successful.”

Swinney, on the Chicago Cubs ending their World Series drought:

“You know, Joe Maddon says, hey, if we just don't suck, we've got a chance to win. So that kind of resonated with our guys, and pretty cool experience to see those Cubs win. My father-in-law is a huge Cubs fan, and to see them do something that hasn't been done in, whatever, 100 years or whatever, was pretty amazing. Pretty amazing.”

MORE: 7 things to learn about Clemson and Alabama

Saban, on Swinney:

“Dabo is an Alabama guy, coached at Alabama, he's from Alabama, so I've known him for a long time. But this situation sort of offers us the opportunity to get together sometimes and talk about things. And we do that a lot.”

Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, on if preparing for this game is like cramming for a fnial:

“Today, the closer we get to the game, that stuff occurs.”

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, on preparing for the Alabama offense:

“You don’t want to chase ghosts… Steve and Lane aren’t on two different planets philosophically.”

Swinney, on Alabama having a backup offensive coordinator:

“Yeah, I don't have that (laughing). I've got -- I don't quite have those pedigrees on the sideline.”

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, on the Tigers’ missing piece:

“This team has all kinds of wins. Conference wins. Bowl wins. This is the only win we don't have.”

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