I debated not posting this. After all, I didn’t post anything before the game. I didn’t put anything on the line. I didn’t invite discussion. I have reasons — all real life related — for my absence of late (and as an aside, much thanks to Coach Mo for toting all our water the last couple months). But, championships — even at Alabama — are rare things and deserve recognition. Plus, I miss this place and the discussions that happen here.
Ultimately, I decided to resume because it has to happen at some point, and this championship more than any other was personal. My day started at 3:30 AM when my wife and I got up, poked our heads into the kids’ room one last time to whisper goodbye and then headed to the hospital. My third child, a son, was born at 7:45 AM.
Rationally, of course the two events are unrelated. Alabama didn’t win it’s 14th title because my son was born. But sharing Alabama football with my kids is one of the things I enjoy about being a dad, and it certainly strengthens that connection when I can tell him about how he was only a few hours old when his dad held him and put him to sleep softly singing ‘Yea Alabama’ to him while the Tide left no doubt who the best team on the field was.
So with that said, a few observations:
It wasn’t perfect. Like the first time they met, the Tide had success moving between the twenties and then completely stalled out time after time. And as was repeated ad nauseum during the broadcast, the Tide all but refused to put the ball in Trent Richardson‘s hands in the red zone. But if that was a curious decision, Les Miles‘ adamant insistence on continuing to play Jordan Jefferson was an absolute mystery. His explanation after the game was satisfactory on its face, but it hinges on the idea that Jefferson was still trying to win. I’m not convinced he was. I don’t know Jefferson. Maybe he really was giving it his all and was just in an all-timer of a funk. But when I looked at the expression on his face in the fourth quarter, it looked to me like he was saying, “let’s just get out of here.” The LSU defense never quit, but it sure looked like Jefferson did.
Two games of evidence. For all the talk of how LSU already beat Alabama once, here’s an interesting bit of trivia: In the two games combined, Alabama led LSU for 69 minutes and 50 seconds of game clock. LSU led for exactly zero seconds.
“Touch that thang, folk.” Allegedly the t-shirt of this exists and if anyone can point me in the direction of one, I’ve got cash. Courtney Upshaw was unstoppable, and that’s nearly literal. Despite it being obvious on Jefferson’s checks that he was looking for Upshaw every down, LSU seemed powerless to do anything about him.
“Game Manager.” AJ McCarron had a great game. From just one view, I only recall one truly bad throw on his part, but it was a doozy. Brad Smelley could have turned cartwheels into the end zone he was so open and McCarron just led him too far.
Tyrann Matthieu. You heard his nickname from Brent Musberger enough so I won’t repeat it here, but not only was he a non-factor, but McCarron repeatedly captialized out what those who have been paying attention this season already know– Matthieu’s gift is in capitalizing on other’s mistakes, not playing great defense. He’s talented, but undeserving of all the accolades he’s received. To his credit, he handled the loss with more class than some of his teammates (looking at you, Will Blackwell).
Coach McElwain. I’ve always been critical of his play-calling, and as someone who loves coach turnover season, I openly wished he would get a head coaching job so I could enjoy a good coordinator search in Tuscaloosa. But I have to tip my hat to him. His game plan for this LSU team was flawless, other than the aforementioned absence of Richardson in the red zone. More than that, the game plan was implemented to perfection. No penalties, no miscommunication. Everyone executed. Well done, Coach. I hope our next offensive coordinator can give as much.
The polls. I was glad to see the protest vote never truly materialized in a way to really take away from what the Tide accomplished. The basis for it was stupid on it’s face anyway — largely built on the narrative from the first game that somehow transformed from “Alabama missed several opportunities to win the game” to “LSU dominated the first game and shouldn’t have to do it again.” The blogpoll had the most disagreement at the top, with Oklahoma State actually beating out LSU narrowly for the second spot. The problem I have with this is that there are two possible reasons for voting OSU over LSU and neither one is valid. The first is the protest ballot — voting up Ok State as a way to continue to harp on the suggestion that they were more worthy than Alabama — which ceased to have merit after the game was played. The second is based on schedule. Alabama had a perceived easier path than both teams. I can agree that it was less than LSU and for the sake of discussion, I’ll agree with the suggestion that it was less than OSU’s as well. But there’s no way to say that OSU’s resume was stronger than LSU’s. So if you’re voting based on resume, fine, but that vote goes to the Tigers, not the Cowboys. If losing to Alabama meant that LSU was overrated, then you don’t get to ignore what losing to Iowa State means.
Number nine. It’s official. No matter whose measure you use to count championships, Alabama now stands alone atop history with nine championships that are universally recognized (and of course 14 that the fanbase claims and 18 that the NCAA recognizes).
Roll Tide, ladies and gentlemen. Congratulations to the players and coaches who earned this championship. These are great times we are enjoying as fans.