FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Both Urban Meyer and Dabo Swinney made their final appearance with the media on Thursday morning to talk about Friday's Orange Bowl game. Both teams came very close to playing in the BCS Championship game but a loss against Michigan State knocked the Buckeyes out in the final round of games while Clemson saw its dreams dashed in October with a loss to Florida State (and later a loss to in-state South Carolina).
Often times observers call bowl games meaningless games or just exhibitions but coaches don't feel that way especially when trying to define a season.
"It's part of this season," Meyer said. "We're 12 1. 12-2 is a lot different than 13-1, and winning a BCS Bowl game is very important."
On the other side the Tigers know the importance of a bowl game and what it means for your legacy. In the 2012 Orange Bowl Clemson was dismantled by West Virginia, 70-33 and that loss has been a tough stigma to shake.
"We spent eight months after that year, I mean, we were the worst team in America," Swinney said. "We just played in a BCS Bowl, won the ACC first time in 20 years, won 10 games first time in 20 something years, but we were this bad football team. We're 21 4 since that game, and those four losses have been to top ten teams. We've had our fair share of those top ten wins along the way as well."
Both teams should figured to be in the National Championship conversation in 2014 but the outcome of this game could provide a little extra push for the winner and a loss, especially a bad loss, by either team could allow doubt and criticism to creep in. Add the extra pressure the Buckeyes feel to try and help carry the Big Ten banner in bowl season and it could make anyone tight.
"The conference is getting better," Meyer said. "Guys are working extremely hard to close the gap on the SEC. That's the one conference the last few years that has really dominated. So that's a topic of conversation quite often."
Bryant may be done
It was always doubtful that Christian Bryant would be able to play in Friday's game but the hits kept on coming as the Ohio State defender had his medical redshirt application turned down. Bryant broke his ankle in the final 30 seconds of the game against Wisconsin and there was hope that he could be granted a medical redshirt.
"I believe the appeal was denied," Meyer said. "I'm not sure if there's another one, to come back for another year. He won't be able to play in this game. There was a little bit of outside hope to get him ready, but the injury that he had was pretty severe. I'm not sure if there's another appeal process left. Appeals haven't been real good to the Buckeyes here lately, so we'll see."
Meyer's comment was likely about Ohio State losing out on an appeal on Noah Spence's suspension by the Big Ten.
Stats don't tell the story
Don't expect Clemson to buy into all the negative press clippings when it comes to Ohio State's pass defense. The numbers are there, Bradley Roby is out and there has just been an overall bad feeling about the play of the defense down the stretch.
"You don't luck up and go 24 1," Swinney said. "This is a team that is truly a few minutes away you saw a great team in Michigan State last night, but this is a team that is a few minutes away from being in the National Championship Game. So they're a National Championship caliber team."
Swinney and his assistant coaches have spent the last several weeks breaking down the Buckeyes as a whole and don't see the team that Ohio State fans have been down on down the stretch.
"They have given up some plays, have had some inconsistency, but I think that the fact that they've had two 1,000 yard rushers and they've won most games pretty handily, all that stuff is skewed, in my opinion," Swinney added. "This is a very good football team, a very good defense, a complete team."
No captain, my captain
Meyer was asked on Thursday if the team has taken any steps about permanent captains for the 2013 season. Each week the team would have several guys go out for the coin toss but there were no "permanent captains" named at that point and it doesn't look like we are any closer at this point.
"So I still haven't decided yet," Meyer said. "Obviously, some have performed better than others. Jordan Hall is a great example. Jordan Hall is a guy that was our leading rusher first three games of the year. Went through a chronic, a bad knee issue that he's playing better. He had one of his best practices yesterday. I go back to what Mike Vrabel said. I'm captain. It doesn't matter. You're a leader. We haven't decided that yet."
Tebow the broadcaster
It was announced recently that Tim Tebow would be heading to the television set and have a role with the SEC Network. Tebow still has aspirations of being a NFL quarterback and while he has no suitors, there are always the rumors of Tebow one day joining Meyer on the sidelines in some capacity. Have there been any serious talks that have occurred between the two?
"Last spring he came and stayed with me for a few days because I don't want to disrupt his dream," Meyer said. "His dream is to go play quarterback in the National Football League, and I don't think we're there yet that he's in his mindset that he's done. So nothing serious."