1. Dabo Swinney remains close to his former Alabama teammates, even as his Clemson team faces the Crimson Tide for the College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T. “These are deep relationships that go back to when you're 18, 19 years old, and that doesn't change just because everybody kind of goes their separate ways,” Swinney said Sunday. “... I've had a lot of fun. I've had some that have been giving me a hard time -- like little Mark McMillian, who lives out here in Arizona now -- but I've heard from lots of people, and they all wish us well. Everybody is pulling for a great game. I appreciate their support.”
2. Alabama coach Nick Saban, never shy about taking on big issues, wants the NFL to push back the date by which underclassmen must declare their eligibility for the draft from Jan. 15. He also wants the NFL to withhold its draft grade until after a player’s bowl game, and then allow the player “a significant amount of time to make that decision,” Saban said, “... so you can stay focused on what you need to do to play well.” It makes sense for the college game. There’s nothing in it for the NFL except goodwill. Is that enough to make the league listen?
3. All I know about Noel Mazzone, whom Kevin Sumlin swiped from UCLA to run the Texas A&M offense, is that everywhere he has coached, the offense has been productive. Among his quarterbacks: Kelly Stouffer, Philip Rivers, Jason Campbell, Brock Osweiler and Josh Rosen. Among the tailbacks who have shined in his offenses: Deuce McAllister, Ronnie Brown and Steven Jackson. He brings just the sort of been-there, done-that presence to College Station that Sumlin needs. Mazzone is a really good hire at just the right time.