First of all, for this to work we've got forgive Dabo Swinney for his recent fit of caterwauling.

Never did make sense. All that whining seemed out of character, somewhat beneath the Clemson coach.

But all coaches have some skeletons. You don't get to those positions without stepping over a few bodies.

You do what you have to do.

Maybe that was why Dabo, who hadn't (and still hasn't) lost a game in two years, was somehow playing the "we-get-no-respect" card once the College Football Playoff selection committee started its due deliberations on sorting out the postseason seedings.

He had to answer to charges that Clemson "don't play anybody" — it hadn't or, better, yet it ain't — and he was insinuating that his players, some of the finest athletes in the NCAA, were getting their feelings hurt.

It came to a head when Clemson beat South Carolina, which wasn't anybody either, that the Gamecocks somehow — nobody has ever explained it — beat Georgia, which remained in the playoff mix.

"If we lose this game, they're going to kick us out (of the playoffs)," Swinney said after boat-racing South Carolina 38-3. "They don't want us in there anyway."

Wait. Who didn't want what, where? Why would you be looking for an excuse to keep out the defending national champion?

Clemson was in. It's just that the committee was drawing the line at the No. 1 seed.

But Dabo wasn't done.

"Georgia loses to this very same team, the very next day, it's how do we keep Georgia in it? We win to the team that beat (Georgia) and it's, how do we get Clemson out? It's the dadgumdest thing. It's big … we got to go 30-0, we ain't got no choice,"

At least he said "dadgumdest."

That's the lovable Dabo we thought we all knew. It's hard not to like a guy named Dabo, but he was pushing the cotton-picking envelope for a while there.

But now that it's settled and Clemson has beaten somebody named Ohio State, I'm for giving Dabo a pass on that one.

He can go back to being Dabo now.

Just in time, too.

In fact, I would say that, dadgummit, the LSU-Clemson national championship game just might be the most perfect coaching matchup in the playoff era.

The two up-and-coming X-and-O genius whippersnappers, Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley and Ohio State's Ryan Day, have been sent home to let the NFL drool over them while they plot their career patch.

That leaves it to two regular guys, two ordinary folk who it's hard to imagine being anywhere else, going at it for the national championship.

What's not to like?

Forget Louisiana. The whole nation, it seemed, fell in love with Ed Orgeron this season. Couldn't wait for the obligatory: Geaux Ti-gahs.

Dabo Swinney, everybody already knew. He was the unlikely leader to show the world how to beat the machine that is Nick Saban and wasn't afraid to smile about it (while still aw-shucks-ing) and admitting he might have a life outside football.

Yes, you've got two coaches on the final stage who aren't afraid to act like they're enjoying the ride and, in Coach O's case in particular, flat out living the dream.

How could it get any better?

You want back-of-the-bayou, stereotypical Cajun Louisiana, then Coach O is your man, straight from central casting.

You want the guy who seems right at home in coaching at one of the most out-of-the-way, gravel-road outposts in college football, then look up Dabo and send the rest of the guys home.

Orgeron looks and sounds like he just stepped off a shrimp boat looking for the next chanky-chank, honky-tonk dust-up.

Dabo comes across like he could be third in line behind Gomer and Goober to take over Wally's fillin' station in Mayberry. Or, who knows? Maybe Opie grew up.

Now if Orgeron could just go back to his former nickname, the one he left behind when he swore off the brawling and carousing.

Just imagine the draw of this showdown:

BéBé vs. Dabo

You couldn't make this stuff up.

Maybe it proves the fallacy of all those "national searches" that athletic directors brag about.

Both were unlikely choices who somehow parlayed stints as interim head coaches.

Dabo took over midseason of 2008 when Tommy Bowden was let go. Nobody had ever heard of him. Nothing sexy about the hire. Now he's running one of the most powerful football programs in the land. Remember when "Clemsoning" was a verb meaning to choke? When's the last time you heard that?

Orgeron, of course, was known to a degree when LSU was almost forced to hire him after aiming and missing awkwardly at all the familiar targets. Mostly he was known for a disastrous three years in his first head coaching job at Ole Miss. LSU took a pretty good mocking, even a few horselaughs, after the hire.

So who's laughing now?

Yes, it's going to a fun week leading up to this one.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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