10 things I'm absolutely overreacting to after the national championship game
Were you surprised? I wasn’t. I picked Clemson because I thought Deshaun Watson would do things that only Deshaun Watson can do.
He did … and his performance and that finish are two of 10 things I’m absolutely overreacting to after one of the greatest championship games in college football history.
1. Quit complaining about the final play: Credit Alabama’s players, most notably Tim Williams, for not blaming the officials on Clemson’s game-winning touchdown.
Could they have called offensive pass interference? Sure. Should they have? No way. I would have absolutely lost my mind had another call decided another national championship game. I’m still not over the bogus, comically late PI call that cost Miami the 2002 national championship.
Everybody runs some version of that rub play. Scheme better to stop it.
2. Speaking of Williams, why can’t everybody handle adversity like this? As great as he was the past two years, his post-game performance Monday was Hall of Fame classy. I’m a fan for life.
3. Clemson played better last year: How scary is that? The Tigers weren’t sharp Monday. They had more turnovers and were ultra-conservative in the first half and still trailed just 14-7 at the break. The key sequence came on the opening possession of the second half, when the Tigers held Alabama to a mere field goal after Ryan Anderson recovered a Tigers fumble and returned it to the Clemson 16.
All season, the Tide had turned those scoops into scores. Had Anderson done that (Hunter Renfrow, yes, that pesky walk-on again, tackled Anderson), Bama would have stretched its lead to 21-7. Instead, Clemson held them to a field goal and stayed within striking distance.
4. Was Tony Dungy coaching the Tide? Raymond James was the perfect location for the title game. I live here, and Bama’s conservative game-plan reminded me of watching Tony Dungy’s Buccaneers, who played to win every game 20-17. Those defensive-minded Bucs won a lot of those games, too, but never the biggest ones.
The danger in playing to win 20-17 is, you make one mistake on defense, and you can lose 24-20.
Jon Gruden realized that. He took that exact same Dungy defense, busted open the playbook on offense and won a Super Bowl the next season.
Give Clemson’s defense credit; the Tigers’ front seven was every bit as good as Alabama’s. But the Tide’s offensive plan just seemed … unimaginative and bland.
Alabama’s offense, so reliant on Jalen Hurts and the zone-read concept all season, changed to better suit Bo Scarbrough’s physical, Power I game.
Getting the most out of Scarbrough and Hurts will be something to watch moving forward. They’re both exceptional, but are they the perfect match?
5. Deshaun Watson is the best quarterback in America … and has been for 2 years: Dabo Swinney was fired up after the game. Good for him, and good for him for taking Heisman voters to task.
Seriously, has there been a better, more accomplished quarterback than Watson who hasn’t won the Heisman?
I don’t have a vote, but you might remember what my ballot would have looked like:
Bryce Harper's Heisman ballot:
1. Deshaun Watson
2. That's a clown question, bro.
3. See No. 2
— Chris Wright (@FilmRoomEditor) October 2, 2016
And to think some people left Watson off their ballot entirely.
6. Watson, of course, would have won the Heisman … if they actually voted at the right time: This doesn’t really need a ton of explanation. College football’s most coveted award should include every game. They used to crown national champions before bowl games, too, and eventually figured out there was a better way.
Voting after the national championship wouldn’t always change the winner, but given how Lamar Jackson finished up compared with Watson, wouldn’t the voters rather look right than silly?
A postseason show in New York the weekend after the national championship game would expand exposure another week, too. It’s an obvious win-win.
7. I’m going to laugh, hard, when three NFL teams draft quarterbacks ahead of Watson: Unless, of course, my Jags are one of the three. If that happens, this might, too.
— Busted College (@BustedCollege) January 10, 2017
8. We need 8 teams in the Playoff. Next year: Everybody is so concerned about preserving the sacred regular season. That’s laughable on many levels — the most important being that no two regular seasons are equal, not even in the same conference, much less across the Power 5 landscape.
The only way to accurately compare the SEC and ACC, for instance, is to have them play. Regularly. Annually. Multiple games.
You want to make the regular season really exciting and memorable? Expand the Playoff to 8 and eliminate the fear of actually scheduling a tough non-conference opponent.
If conference champions get automatic bids, we’d see more Florida State vs. Alabama in September, not less, because the top teams still would have an automatic path to the Playoff.
In the current state, nearly every team except Ohio State can’t afford to lose … and they schedule accordingly.
The Big Ten is playing 9 conference games. Why? The real reason is doing so ensures that they control the message (“We’re the best!”) rather than having to actually prove it. If each Power 5 team played only 6 division games (or 7 conference games in the Big 12’s case) and played four non-conference games against the other Power 5 leagues, we’d have a much, much clearer picture of who’s doing what.
I’ll take evidence over random-based opinion every day … and the bowl season provided plenty more of it, didn’t it.
9. The ACC was better than the SEC this season: So writes my guy and former colleague Joe Giglio. He’s absolutely, right, too. This season.
— Joe Giglio (@jwgiglio) January 10, 2017
10. Anybody seen or heard from the Big Ten lately?
Chris Wright is Executive Editor at SaturdayDownSouth.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @FilmRoomEditor.