The girls did just fine. There was some grumpiness, but nothing unusual. The kitchen did seem quiet, as I was pouring bowls of cereal and warming toaster waffles for the first time without Christmas music since November. I need to find some good morning music. I think the quiet kitchen puts everyone on edge.

The morning was a little tougher for me. Not because I was sad that the holiday was over, or because I was dreading my eye doc visit.[1] Nope, it was a tough morning because I was up well past midnight watching the damn CFP championship game.

I’m not mad, though. That was one hell of a game. Especially the last 6:00 of game time. Which took, what, 54 minutes of real time to play? I mean, seriously. Do we have to have 157 replay reviews, 25 minutes of pregame ceremonies after 8:00 Eastern, and then the super-long halftime?

Then again, one of my most vivid college sports memories of my youth is my mom forcing me to go to bed before the 1984 Orange Bowl ended. However, she kept the TV on, and I was allowed to keep my bedroom door cracked, so I was listening when Miami foiled the Nebraska two-point conversion attempt. So I guess kids have been missing the end of the college football season for decades. The new system continues to tradition of the bowl system!

Anyway, my old man complaining out of the way, I really enjoyed the game. I’ve always disliked both schools. Why? I honestly have no idea. I had a contrarian streak in me when I was little, and I remember hating Alabama, Penn State, Ohio State, and USC from my earliest days of watching sports. I always rooted for Nebraska or Oklahoma from the Big 8, or upstart Miami to win back in the early 80s. I think my dislike of Clemson comes from them beating Nebraska in the 1981 Orange Bowl. Ironically, I can’t see myself rooting for Nebraska against either of these teams today.

Anyway anyway…I’ve come to respect and admire Alabama’s constant excellence. That’s damn hard to do. Harder, I think, than what Duke or Kentucky do in college basketball recruiting. Those schools can scoop up a handful of the top 20 high school players each year and always be competitive. Nick Saban has to replace 20–25 players every year. And every single year he not only gets the #1 or #2 recruiting class, but he keeps his team ranked in the top five all season. It’s an amazing feat.

Clemson, I still don’t consider much. I’m not a huge fan of their coach’s persona, but there’s no doubt he can recruit and coach. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, I should have been pulling for them. But, honestly, I didn’t care. I was just hoping for an entertaining game.

Hopes rewarded!

We got unstoppable Alabama early. They looked absolutely ferocious on defense, and two fantastic touchdown runs by Bo Scarbrough made me worry about a blowout early. But Clemson settled down, clawed back into it, and even when they trailed deep into the second half, it felt like they were the more comfortable team. If they could keep their players healthy. Man, Alabama was laying some serious wood on defense. They seemed as intent on harming Clemson players as tackling them.

Those last three drives of the game will go down in legend. Clemson’s wonderful drive to take their first lead of the game. Alabama’s stone cold, predictable return volley, featuring a couple excellent play calls and a run by Jalen Hurts that would rank up with Vince Young’s national title winning scamper had it held up. But then Watson calmly gets the Tigers down the field, avoiding the rush, making big throws, and being rewarded with some tremendous catches.

The game-winning play was gutsy as hell, too. If they don’t complete that pass, or if Watson has to scramble around and toss the ball away, the game is over. There was a part of me that was shocked Clemson didn’t just take the three points with 6 seconds left and happily go to overtime with the momentum. But that’s how you should win a title against Alabama: with a legendary play that was fueled on pure guts and absolute confidence. I imagine Hunter Renfrow already had no trouble with the ladies. That dude will never sleep alone the rest of his life unless he wants to.

There was controversy. Pick plays get called like three times a year, so there was no way they were getting called in the fourth quarter of a national title game. That said, tackling a defender and forcing him into a teammate is a little extreme. If I was an Alabama fan, I’d be pissed. But that’s the way the game is called today, so I wasn’t too worked up about it as a neutral.

I imagine there’s a lot of grousing in Alabama about the Tide’s offense, and how swapping offensive coordinators in the past week affected them. Did it cost them the game? I would lean toward no – Hurts has a long way to go to be a really good passing QB, and losing Scarbrough in the second half had a huge effect on what they could do – but I also don’t know that Lane Kiffin wouldn’t have called a more effective game.

I don’t feel too sorry for Alabama fans. They’ll likely be back in the playoff next year. And the year after. And for as long as Saban wants to keep coaching them. I think the pure joy felt by Clemson fans far outweighs the disappointment in Alabama.

So a great World Series. A great CFP National Title Game. No pressure on the Super Bowl to live up to that standard.

  1. No new glasses this year! Sadly, though, it looks like this will be my final year avoiding bifocals.  ↩