All that's left is the fight

ATLANTA - Just over 24 hours before their teams face off in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dabo Swinney and Les Miles met on friendly terms one last time.

Now, after nearly a full month of buttering up their respective opponent, The Sweatshirt and The Mad Hatter are finished answering the sometimes monotonous pre-game questions.

The Tigers are ready to battle in the Georgia Dome on New Year's Eve. But it won't stop there. Their fight will continue through the first Wednesday in February.

"We have not won many of those [recruiting] battles," Swinney said. "We're, like, 1 for 20, somewhere along those lines."

Miles interrupted, "If we're over by where they live, we don't do very well. If they're over by where we live, we do pretty well."

At the forefront of this year's struggle will be five-star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche. Neither coach, of course, is permitted to discuss specific prospects by name.

They did dish out praise for one another, addressing the other's prowess on the recruiting trail.

"I have great respect for coach Miles. I told him this the other day. I appreciate how he handles his business. I appreciate the example he sets for all of these coaches, because he does it right," Swinney said. "His staff does it right. I can't necessarily say that about everybody in this business. There's good people and bad people in this business."

Said Miles, "I concur. I've only seen Swinney's operations done right and correctly, and with the best interest of the player in mind."

Object of envy…

The level of consistency that LSU has reached under Miles is similar to what Swinney is strive to attain at Clemson.

LSU [10-2, 6-2 SEC] is perennial contender on the national stage while Clemson [10-2, 7-1 ACC] has progressed towards that level since Swinney took over on a full-time basis in December of 2008.

"This has not been the norm for us. We're trying to make it the norm to where we're in a situation every year like LSU," Swinney said. "LSU has won 10, 11, 12, 13 games pretty regularly under coach Miles.

"They're a national championship caliber team. We're not quite there yet. But I do think that we've made great progress."

Similar backgrounds…

Both Swinney and Miles got their starts as head coaches, thanks to Terry Don Phillips.

Then athletic director at Oklahoma State, Phillips hired Miles as the head coach of the Cowboys in 2001.

As Clemson's athletic director in 2008, Phillips named Swinney head coach

Earlier this week, the Chick-fil-A Bowl announced that Phillips would be inducted into the bowl's Hall of Fame.

"I'm very indebted to that man," Miles said. "I'd like to say thanks, thanks for taking a chance on two assistant coaches."

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