The following is an edited transcript from Friday's press conference:
What’s the practice schedule as you guys get back into the swing of things?
Swinney: They’ve been running and lifting this week and also had skills and drills Tuesday and Thursday. They actually got started back Monday as a team. We’ll get back out there with them as a staff tomorrow. Have meetings on Monday, practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, meetings on Friday and practice on Saturday. Obviously, next week, we’ll be kind of balancing with finals a little bit. Once the finals are over, we’ll have a full week of practice. I think our last practice is the 21st. We’ll give them an opportunity to be with their families for a couple of days and get back together at the bowl site.
Have you gotten a little more chance since you found out you’re going to be playing? What’s stood out to you about what you’re going to be up against?
Swinney: Actually, I have not. That’s what I’m trying to do today and this weekend and Monday. The next few days, I’m going to really be spending a lot of time watching some tape. Both the coordinators are here today, as well. Most of the staff is still on the road. I got back last night, from out on the road, so I’ve really been away from all that since I found out who we’re playing on Sunday night. Today’s the first time I’ve been back. I’m just starting the process. Our GA’s have been breaking that film down.
Listen, I know enough about LSU. I don’t have to turn the film on. I’ve seen them for a long time, had an opportunity to watch them several times. They have two of the best defensive ends in the country, as good a defensive line as anybody that plays. They’ll be a physical, tough bunch that can run the football. They play three or four running backs, have a very capable quarterback that can beat you throwing the ball, when called upon to do so. This is a complete football team.
This is a team that played for the national championship not even 12 months ago. The team that’s playing for the national championship, Alabama, if not for a screen pas on the last play of the game, we’re probably not playing this team. This is a very, very good football team. As a good a team as there is in the country. You have to be complete to be in the category.
Will Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland be available?
Swinney: I don’t anticipate Darius being back, but hopeful, hopeful that Breeland will be back. I’m not 100 percent sure on that. We’ll meet as a staff in the morning and talk about personnel issues, with trainers. I am anticipating Breeland being back.
Some of your players on Tuesday said they felt like this game was a chance at redemption. Do you feel that way?
Swinney: This is a one-game season. That’s what it is. It’s an opportunity for our next goal…to win the bowl game. When we step back from the regular season, get away from the emotion of it, the grind of what you’ve just been through, evaluate here’s what we got done, I think this has nothing to hang their head about. It’s a 10-2 football team, lost two games to top opponents. I wish we were 12-0. When I look back at what our objectives were coming into the season, things we needed to do as a program, we certainly excelled in a lot of those areas…I don’t look at it as redemption, I look at it as opportunity to go win your bowl game and create some momentum. We all know that there’s a lot of positive momentum and energy when you win your bowl game. It’s your last game. When you don’t win your bowl game, you’ve got to pick yourself back up, go to work and you’ve got a long time before you play again. It’s always good when you finish the season with a win. That’s what our objective is.
Are there some distractions regarding the coaching rumors?
Swinney: It’s not like that’s an isolated issue for one place. In this business, the month of December, January and sometimes a little bit into February, there are things that present themselves from time to time. We don’t get caught up and comment on things that are just rumors, that kind of stuff. We’ve got a plan and preparation that we’ll execute. That’s all we focus on. It’s a great staff. We have a great staff. You’re always going to have some things come up that you have to evaluate. That’s really all there is to it. I don’t look at that as a distraction. That’s just part of the business. It’s the same to everybody.
Is there anything to the report or rumor that coach [Charlie] Harbison is going to Auburn?
Swinney: I’m not going to comment on any personnel issues. If I make a comment on a personnel issue, it’s not going to be on a rumor. It’s going to be because there’s a transaction. There’s something that there is actually a comment to be made about. I don’t deal in rumors or anything like that. I anticipate all of our staff being here. From time to time, change happens. This is a program that we built that will respond appropriately and attract great coaches. I don’t anticipate having any changes on our staff. It’s just that time of year.