Ok so let’s just say that last night’s game DEFINITELY lived up to the hype. It was an absolutely phenomenal game that, in a weird way, showcased both stifling defense AND dynamic offense. Either team could have pulled it out and you wouldn’t have felt cheated, you wouldn’t have felt that the winner was undeserving. That is the sign of a great game. The other thing that made it great was that I called it correctly (FSU wins, but TAKKEEE AUBURN AND THE POINTS!). However, as we look back on this last BCS National Championship Game, I want to point out 5 things to take away from it.
1. The BCS Got it right, but that doesn’t make it right!
I’m sick of hearing people looking in their rearview mirror and saying, “See the BCS put the top two teams in the title game, and we’re going to miss it”. Listen, NOTHING will be worse off due to this change in format. As great as this game was, there is nothing to say that putting Alabama or Michigan State in this title game would have yielded a lesser game (Vegas agrees by the way). Secondly, the majority of the bowl games had to be scheduled based on what team’s fan bases would “travel” the best, and they STILL didn’t sell out. The non-national title bowl games, I’m sorry to say this, always have this feel that one team (or sometimes both) just don’t seem as prepared as they should. Because of this, we start discounting the results of these bowl games as meaningless. Like when Boise St. beat Oklahoma and everyone discounted it because Oklahoma wasn’t “up” for the game?!
When we go to the 4 team playoff next year (and hopefully an 8 or 16 team playoff in the future) every game will matter. We won’t have to guess if anyone is getting it right. We won’t have to guess which conference is stronger or weaker. We’ll be deciding things on the field. Do I think 4 teams is the right number and will always get it right? No. But fact is, it’s still better than just guessing on 2 teams and it’s a step towards a proper playoff system.
2. Let Jameis Go!
I’m not going to guarantee that he’s a surefire Pro-bowler, but he’s definitely prepared to move on from the college game. The kid is not being protected by being held back from the NFL, he’s being exploited. His accuracy, decision making, mechanics and arm talent are all absolutely unquestioned by scouts. He’s 6’5 245lbs, he’s a grown ass man. The only reason to keep him in school is because, I’m sorry Jameis, he may not be able to read his own contract (did you hear his post game interviews??!!). All kidding aside, he’s ready to earn a paycheck for the profession he is pursuing. No other profession are we prevented from earning a wage the way the NCAA blocks college athletes from entering the pro ranks. Jameis, challenge the rule and get your freedom!
3. It’s not an SEC bias, it’s a Southern Bias
Seriously, let’s not pretend like football and football players are better just in the SEC. They are better all over the south. The top recruits in the nation (many, if not most of which, come from states south of Maryland), don’t know the history of ND, PSU, Michigan or even really Ohio State. They know Florida, FSU, Alabama, and other huge southern programs that have been making national headlines over the past 10 years. Additionally, if you’re a recruit from ANYWHERE in the nation, and you have the choice of going to a big-time program in the warm weather (California, Texas, Florida) vs. going to Michigan or Ohio… where are you going? You are going to the warmer weather! Recruits are going south and there just is no ignoring this fact. The conferences are meaningless, it’s about the coaches and the facilities. And the best coaches, and best facilities are in the south and the players are following.
4. ESPN #Titletalk was actually awesome
For anyone who didn’t catch it, ESPN hosted a simulcast of the game on ESPN 2 called #Titletalk. It was a multi-screen view of the game that was narratted by a collection of changing players, analysts, coaches, and broadcasters discussing the game as it happened. The studio guests, who ranged from Johnny Football, to Tom Luginbill, to Nick Saban, brought an absolute ton of game insight and to be fair it was pretty funny too. Whether it was watching David Pollack become absolutely annoyed with Paul Feinbaum’s terrible jokes, or the entire studio giving Manziel shit for eating like 10 pulled pork sliders, it felt like you were hanging out with all these guys and it was really interesting.
5. College sports are just better than pro sports
The skill level may be a significant notch below, but the passion and urgency of college sports are just contagious. You can feel the clock ticking on these athlete’s careers every time you watch them play. You only get 4 years to play college sports, and for 99% of those athletes, that is the end of their career. You don’t get to choose your time to leave the game, it’s predetermined. 4 years and you’re out! It’s sad and exciting at the same time, knowing full well that each kid only gets, at best, 4 chances to do something legendary. The college fans realize this and you can feel it in the stadiums. College fans don’t change allegiances based on where they move later in life; instead they hold their teams dear for the entirety of their lives. Pro sports are great and I totally appreciate the increase in level of talent and skill at that level, but at the end of the day it just can’t compete with the passion of college sports. Last night’s national title game encapsulated the passion and urgency by the coaches, players and fans on both sides. For as awesome as it must be to have been on the FSU team last night, I can’t imagine what it feels like to have been a senior on Auburn last night. To walk off that field knowing you’re never going to have a chance to avenge that loss, knowing that you’re never going to suit up again. Yet, at the same time… THAT is exactly what makes each college game so awesome.