Hail to Alabama. The Crimson Tide rule the college football roost again. For the sixth time in the last 11 seasons.
Yes, this makes seven-time national champion Nick Saban—who started with an extra point at LSU before putting up his touchdown in Tuscaloosa—the greatest college coach of all-time. . . although I thought that was already settled.
And while many coaches who achieve an over-abundance of success tend to be autocratic and unlikeable, Saban has managed to be humble and wise—a Yoda-like presence in a land of fist-pounders.
But a moment, please, to appreciate what Ohio State did to get to this game—and to keep it interesting for, oh, about 25 minutes. Those two touchdowns right before halftime turned a 21-17 ``how long can the Buckeyes hang around?’’ into a 35-17 Crimson Tide-al wave.
And what are we to make of this pandemic season?
You can debate whether it was a good idea or not to play college football in terms of containing a Coronavirus that rages on. But you can say that about endless numbers of human endeavors—from having a beer with friends to flying to Grandma’s house.
No question, college football provided a much needed escape.
And while the Buckeyes were no match for Alabama, what they did merely to get the national championship game is a worthy accomplishment.
With Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and coach Ryan Day spearheading the resistance, the Big Ten season, which had been shelved out of Covid concern, was revived. And while it was a sawed-off endeavor, it was a season that was worth the effort to the players and their coaches and many devotees of Big Ten football.
Yes, the national championship game was a letdown. By beating Clemson in their national semi-final, though, the Buckeyes silenced a lot of critics. They gave us a few days to think about a national championship game that wasn’t another in the series of Alabama-Clemson-why-do-I-care matchups.
As a consolation, coach Swinney, the two biggest games of the season involved your Tigers: In Clemson-Notre Dame I, the Irish not only opened the door for their own very fine season. They provided hope for the legion of other playoff hopefuls that there would be more room for them.
And then, Ohio State’s upset of Dabo Swinney’s juggernaut not only spared us Alabama-Clemson XXXVII. It spared us another round of Ohio State/Big Ten bashing because naive Big Ten leaders who thought it, um, might not be a good idea to play football in a Coronavirus cloud had limited the Buckeyes to an unsatisfactory number of games.
This was a pandemic, people. The traditional rules did not apply.
And yes, there is an asterisk on this season. But there is also an exclamation point, thanks to the marvelous way Alabama played the game. The Crimson Tide not only won 13 games. It won them in stellar modern fashion, scoring points as if there were no tomorrow.
Which, this year, was somewhat true.
Thank you, DeVonta Smith, for giving us a sensational season from a wide receiver that broke the Heisman Trophy quarterback stranglehold.
And thank you, Mac Jones, for showing us that there’s still room for an under-rated throw-first quarterback.
And thank you, Najee Harris, for running like the proverbial bull in the china shop.
And to all of those way-cool Bama linemen. . . enjoy the NFL.
Which raises the question: What’s the record for most first-round draft picks, single-school, single-season?
Now, just one last request. . . Please take a break, Alabama. Give somebody else a chance. OK?