Dabo Swinney’s wife Kathleen stole the show — and the last question — at a press conference Monday moments after the Clemson Tigers stepped off a double-decker jet at Sky Harbor International Airport.
Swinney saw his wife grab the microphone and encouraged her to ask her question to running back Wayne Gallman, who sat on the podium next to Swinney.
“How about the cute brunette back there?” Swinney said. “Do you have a question? Who are you with?”
“Wayne, what happened last week,” Kathleen Swinney said. “Something special? Did you graduate?”
“Yes, maam,” Gallman said.
With that, hype week in Arizona began for the Fiesta Bowl. It’s not the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl anymore, as it was for many years, or the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl, as it was last year. PlayStation sponsors the game this year.
No. 2 Clemson (12-1) arrived at 6:45 p.m. Monday, beating the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1) to Arizona by about 90 minutes. The teams will meet at 7 p.m. Saturday in the College Football Playoff semifinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
“We’re right off the plane here and excited to be here,” Swinney said. “It is fun to be back in Arizona and fun to be here for longer than 48 hours. It seems like when we came here for the national championship game last year, I don’t really remember much about it. It was such a blur. I’m excited for not only myself but for these players to have a great opportunity to have great preparation here but also to experience a new part of the country.”
Both teams played in the stadium a year ago. Ohio State beat Notre Dame 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson lost 45-40 to Alabama in the national championship game.
“That was last year,” Swinney said. “It was a different team. Unfortunately, a lot of those guys aren’t with us anymore. We missed an opportunity last year. We certainly had a chance to win it all. We didn’t quite finish like we needed to. Give Alabama credit for that. They earned it. This is a new team, a new season, a new opportunity. Last year’s success doesn’t get it done this year.”
This will be the second matchup between Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and Swinney. Clemson beat Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl in 2014. The coaches and their wives have gotten to know each other over the last four to five years on trips with Nike in the offseason.
“He’s done a phenomenal job,” Swinney said. “I just got his book. I’ll try to get that thing read by the end of the week. I’ve got to look for any edge I can get.”