By Will Stevenson
*Cue 80s slow-motion montage music*
College Football is an enigma for many that follow the sport. It is entangled in unfairness, unethical business practices, and narratives that could make your head spin. Like many of the things we deal with in our life, the process and the actual product differ in emotional response. I like driving a new car and I’m sure you do as well. It’s awesome to ride out with that new car smell, showing off pictures on social media on how you’ve made the “come up” from that crappy vehicle you once had. Likewise, the process of getting a new car is a headache. We should deal with finding the right car, a dealer, insurance, taxes, model, car payment, a loan, the bank and is this car good enough to make it under the warranty. You see, process versus product.
The process of College Football is something we debate daily: Should college players be paid more than their given stipend, transfer requests, coaches being paid ridiculous amounts of money, rape culture, suspensions, institutional control, AD’s moving at the drop of a dime, coaches taking jobs during bowl season and earing bonuses while your redshirt sophomore must sign in blood to move to another program. You see, process.
Somehow, someway, none of that matters once the championship game is being played. It’s like sex with your ex. You know deep down this is the wrong thing to do. You don’t want to text them, talk, see them or even randomly bump into them. But, we like sex, and if it’s good, then why not. So, when Clemson and Alabama kicked off on Monday Night, we were in for a rematch of College Football’s alleged two best teams. I was interested to see if there would be any hand-puppetry by the Clemson defense and which coach would get the reddest in the face while disputing a call by the referees. I was excited for the both quarterbacks: Both were black, both were skilled, but I knew only one was seasoned. Hurts was in the same category as Sims, but Hurts is a freshman, which he has shown that he is a freshman quarterback of a team that specializes in defense and their run game. Watson, has it all: running backs, NFL ready wide receivers, and a vaunting defense.
I watched most of the game with the sound off. I have nothing against the commentators, they just have so many narratives to blabber about that I can’t stand to hear them over and over. Alabama’s 28-year-old running back scored two touchdowns and then broke his leg, which allowed Clemson to mount a comeback. Now, it wasn’t fully on the Alabama defense since they were on the field for almost 100 plays. That’s right, 100 plays. I don’t care how good your defense is, if you’re on the field for almost 100 plays you will suffer in the second half. I’m not particularly high on either coach, so I wasn’t cheering for either to hold up a trophy. It sucks that the loser of this game will be vilified by the fan base as “not being able to win in crunch time” as if it matters. Clemson ran a pick play on the final play to win the game. The receiver ran straight into the defender, and the defender held the receiver. So, if they throw a flag for offensive pass interference, does that change the narrative of the game? Of course, it does, for the media. For me, not so much. The game was filled with mishaps as Clemson punt returners continued to fair catch inside their 5-yard line. Hurts couldn’t complete passes to save his life until the final stages of the fourth quarter. I’m always amazing at the passing offenses in championship games. Watson struggled with his accuracy against the blitz early on, and Hurts was efficient late in the game, but struggled on third down.
All in all, it was an ok game with a good finish. Greatest game? Who cares. Saban will get another raise while Sark will be entrusted with another offense after his offensive nature at USC. What’s with Saban hiring these coaches who are a-holes in life? Beats me. Dabo is king, which makes me sad. He’ll be in front of the microphone more than ever which will consist of God, faith, hope and belief which overshadows the fact that the team is talented. Narratives will be passed along as the Clemson team won because, “They love each other.” These are the sort of narrative driven nonsense that makes me watch these football games more seldom each year, but I’m not the target audience they are trying to reach.
Saban and Dabo will once again going into homes and explain the prospects why they should attend their respective schools, knowing this business doesn’t allow for their coaching power to ever be limited. None of that matters though, so I guess they should trust the process.