ATLANTA — At least before the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and LSU’s Les Miles were in a friendly mood.
In a Sunday news conference, the two coaches, known for their fiery comments in similar situations, were nothing but complimentary of each other. Swinney went so far as to put Miles in a class above other coaches he encounters on the recruiting trail and elsewhere.
“I have great respect for coach Miles,” Swinney said. “I told him this the other day; I appreciate how he handles his business, and I appreciate the example he sets for all of us coaches because he does it right … I can’t necessarily say that for everybody in this business.”
Miles showed similar respect for Swinney.
“I’ve only ever seen Dabo Swinney’s operations to be done right and correctly and with the best interests of the player in mind,” he said.
If the coaches’ assessment of each other is correct, operating the “right way” has paid off in recruiting. Since Swinney took over Clemson during the 2008 season, the two programs have a combined five top 10 recruiting classes, according to ESPN.com. Clemson had the No. 10 class in 2012 and No. 8 in 2011, while LSU had the No. 1 class in 2009, No. 8 in 2010 and No. 10 in 2011.
In the most recent ESPN.com rankings, LSU had the No. 8 class for 2013, while Clemson had the No. 14 class. Neither team has had a class outside the top 20 since 2009.
Holding the fort
Neither team has done exceptionally well recruiting the other’s home state.
Clemson doesn’t have a player on the roster from Louisiana, and LSU only has one player, but he was quite a pick-up. Defensive end Sam Montgomery, a Greenwood High School product, was a first-team All-SEC coaches’ pick and second-team selection for the AP team. He finished the regular season with seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
Back in the Dome
Clemson opened the season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic but hasn’t played in the Chick-fil-A Bowl since 2007, when it lost to Auburn 23-20 in overtime.
At least one player on the Clemson roster has experienced success in the Georgia Dome since then, though. Freshman quarterback Nick Schuessler, sitting out this season after transferring from Mississippi State before his first year began, led the Grayson High School football team to a GHSA Class AAAAA title following the 2011 season.
The Rams won the championship game at the Dome 24-0 over Walton.
Schuessler is reportedly close friends with Robert Nkemdiche, currently a Grayson senior and No. 1 recruit for the 2013 class. Nkemdiche originally committed to Clemson before de-committing earlier this season.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.