AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney don’t have to settle for meeting up in national championship games. They’ll always have Boca Grande, Florida.

The Alabama and Clemson coaches were on the same dinner cruise with mutual friends on St. Patrick’s Day last year on spring break trips to their vacation homes on Gasparilla Island. Both sported their green shirts and the expectation that a rematch was possible.

Swinney even got him a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant in the area, The Temptation, with a little note: “See you in Tampa next year.”

Sure enough, they’ll play Monday night in their second straight national championship game showdown. Alabama won 45-40 last year.

“It's crazy. Here we are, both back in the same spot,” Swinney said. 

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Swinney said Saban had been very gracious after last year’s game and when the two ran into each other at an airport a week or two later. He has a picture on his phone of the two together.

“You know, he's not all soft and cuddly, as y'all know, and he was great after the game,” Swinney said.

The Sabans have had a home on Gasparilla Island for a few years and their vacation schedules sometimes match up. Saban certainly didn't think it was far-fetched the Crimson Tide and a Deshaun Watson-led Clemson team would meet in Tampa.

Dabo is an Alabama guy, coached at Alabama, he's from Alabama, so I've known him for a long time,” Saban said. “But this situation sort of offers us the opportunity to get together sometimes and talk about things. And we do that a lot."
He said he told Swinney that he felt the Watson and the Tigers "would have a great opportunity to be here again next year, or this year now.”