Playoff Championship Clemson Alabama Football

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney reacts during the first half of the NCAA college football playoff championship game against Alabama Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. — On his Fox Sports One radio program before the ACC Championship Game, former ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd had a harsh assessment of Clemson’s playoff credentials.

“Clemson’s a fraud. Clemson is going to get their ears boxed by whoever they play,” Cowherd said, according to reports. “They should have three losses, maybe four. I don’t buy into Clemson.”

The Tigers survived close calls early this season vs. Troy, Louisville, N.C. State and Florida State, and fell at home to Pittsburgh. But Clemson went through Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Alabama to take the title.

“The guy that called us a fraud – was the name Colin Cowherd? I don't know him, never met him – ask Alabama if we're a fraud,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Ask Ohio State if we're a fraud. Ask Oklahoma if we're a fraud. The only fraud is that guy, because he didn't do his homework. I hope y'all print that.”

For his part, Cowherd wasn’t exactly blowing kisses Clemson’s way Monday. He tweeted to his 1.15 million Twitter followers during the title game, “Part of Bama's success...they don't beat themselves. Clemson is for second straight year.” And, “Blown coverage. Again, Clemson mistakes.”

When the 6.5-point underdog Tigers had rallied for a 35-31 victory over Alabama, Cowherd signed off with, “That was the best 9 hour game I’ve ever watched.” (The game was 4 hours, 8 minutes.)

Critical media coverage, however fair or accurate, has long been a sticking point in Swinney’s approach during press settings. He didn’t miss an opportunity to bring it up after Monday’s win.

“We left no doubt tonight. We wanted to play Alabama because now y'all got to change your stories,” Swinney said. “You got to change the narrative. Y'all got to mix it up.”

On Cowherd's radio show Tuesday, he responded to Swinney's remarks:

"Tip of the cap to Dabo and his staff. They played their best two games late. ... All I can say to Dabo Swinney (is) you're a hell of a coach. You made college football better. Your players showed such great character in the most crucial moments; I couldn't be happier for Clemson. I didn't buy them (earlier this year). I watched them almost lose seven times… But what they did last night was remarkable, great for the sport. They had great dignity, and I can take a punch."