CHARLOTTE — When someone asked the question — could two teams from the same conference get into the College Football Playoff? — the gears inside Dabo Swinney’s head began whirring.
His answer was a dissertation on how, if multiple factors aligned, it was possible: selection committee criteria, conference champions with less than stellar résumés, and so on. Only later did the significance sink in.
“Wasn’t nobody asking that eight years ago, I’ll tell you that,” Swinney said later, using his head-coaching tenure at Clemson as a frame of reference. “It was more, ‘Do you think an undefeated ACC team would not get in?’ I think those questions have gone away.”
They’ve been replaced, at least for now, with a different set, more tantalizing than frustrating. At least in July, people see two ACC teams loaded with talent and wonder if their Atlantic Division showdown in late October might be less a Playoff eliminator than accelerator.
Clemson or Florida State? How about both?
In the SEC, it’s an evergreen theme. (Only the teams…