Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney takes pictures of the media during a news conference for the NCAA college football playoff championship game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is putting a new spin on his playing days at Alabama.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Alabama's Nick Saban on Sunday -- the final one before the national championship game Monday night -- Swinney said he was a "crawl-on" with the Crimson Tide in 1989.

"I was one notch below a walk-on," he said. "I crawled on the field out there."

Raised in Pelham, Alabama, Swinney eventually earned a scholarship and was a three-time letterman (1990–1992), including being part of the Tide's 1992 national championship team.

"To get to go out that spring and be a part of the Crimson Tide was unbelievable for me," he said. "I mean, grew up in a small town, first one to go off to college, and I was one of those kids that watched the "Bear Bryant Show" every Sunday, and every time Alabama was on or on the radio, I was listening, fight you in school if you talked bad about them."

Swinney and the Tigers (13-1) will try to upset top-ranked Alabama (14-0) to bring home Clemson's first national championship since 1981.

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