Instant Analysis - BCS
Alabama 37 ... Texas 21
BCS Championship Stream-of-Consciousness Notes
Alabama won the national title, and it doesn't have to apologize to anyone.
It's not the Tide's fault that Texas didn't adequately prepare its backup quarterback, have more of a running game, or put all its eggs in the Colt McCoy basket. It's not the Tide's fault it knocked out McCoy, Mack Brown brain-cramped more than a few times,
allowing Bama its Jack Squirek moment at the end of the first half, or that it did what it had to do to make the game uglier than it probably should've been.
Yes, Alabama won the national title, and it doesn't have to apologize to anyone.
Yeahhhhhh, but …
It's not fair to assume that Texas wins this game if McCoy doesn't get hurt,
but it's going to be hard to ever think about this national title game
without thinking about McCoy and how Texas was hamstrng. Alabama certainly would've kept up the intensity for as long as it would've needed to, and it's up to Texas to have the backups prepared, and have the rest of the team be ready to pick up the slack, if the unthinkable happens, but this just sucks.
It's not fair that anyone should have even a shadow of doubt in their minds about how the BCS Championship turned out, it's not fair that the Tide had to win this way, and its mostly not fair to McCoy, one of the genuinely
classiest players in the college football world, to not get a chance to show what he could do in the biggest moment of his life.
This was cruel, and this was unfair. McCoy would've taken Texas to a Big 12 title game early in his career, but he got hurt against Kansas State trying to get into the end zone and the team never recovered. He would've taken the Longhorns to a conference title and the BCS Championship against Florida, but the Big 12 South tie-breaker rules screwed them over. And now this.
Nebraska fans might say that Texas got its huge break to get to Pasadena in the first place after the way the Big 12 Championship ended, but no matter what you think of a Goliath like Texas, and no matter who you root for,
this wasn't right, even with the way Garrett Gilbert brought the team
Please, don't deny Alabama its greatness and don't mentally put an asterisk next to the national championship. But yeah, it's alright to feel cheated about what might have been.
Alabama is the 2009 national title holder, a worthy and unbeaten champion. Yet, why do I feel just a little bad for the Crimson Tide in the aftermath of its 37-21 victory?
‘Bama is the best team in America. I felt that before the game and I feel it now. However, no matter how you spin it or try to ignore reality, you know that this title has a little less pop since it was won while Colt McCoy, the soul of Texas, spent the majority of the game injured on the sidelines. I take nothing away from the champions, but plenty of others will nudge me into the minority. Heck, their points won't be without merit. Not only did the Longhorns lose McCoy for all but a few minutes of the opening quarter, but his backup, Garrett Gilbert, is a true freshman, with only mop-up experience on his resume.
Gilbert already looks as if he'll be a worthy successor to McCoy, and the fact that he had Texas within three in the fourth quarter was the second biggest story of the night. However, he was not a part of the plan this evening and, at times, was overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation. Though no one will ever know how McCoy would have fared in 60 minutes of action, you can bet he wouldn't have turned it over five times, like Gilbert did, including a crushing miscue just before halftime that DE Marcell Dareus returned 28 yards for a touchdown. Like it or not, by the way, Mack Brown's decision to call a shovel pass in his own territory with a rookie quarterback and just seconds left on the clock will be scrutinized in Austin forever. And it should be.
Since the pairing was announced in early December, this game was broken down and scrutinized from every imaginable angle. Not one of those analyses, however, included the name Garrett Gilbert. It's the unpredictability and hairpin turn nature of sports that makes it the original and unparalleled reality TV show. Texas got thrown a nasty curve ball in Pasadena and darn near turned it around for one of the greatest comebacks in postseason history. Good for the ‘Horns for never quitting on this game and giving the rest of us a reason to stay engaged until the end. The circumstances of McCoy's shoulder injury, however, should take nothing away from Alabama's national championship. From start to finish, there wasn't a better or more complete team in the country in 2009.
1) Well, what did we learn at the end of one of the most unsatisfying and empty college football seasons in quite some time? Texas struggles when Colt McCoy can't play quarterback, but partly because the Longhorns' receivers – except for Jordan Shipley – lose confidence and precision. We learned, too, that the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram, had a mighty fine teammate – Trent Richardson – by his side in the Alabama backfield. We learned that Greg McElroy played far above his pay grade on Dec. 5 in the Georgia Dome. And boy, did we ever learn that Urban Meyer must have been really, really sick and physiologically unsettled during the SEC Championship Game.
Other than that, just how much value or meaning can be taken from a game that – in the final minute of the first half – evoked powerful memories of Jack Squirek plucking a pick-six from Joe Theismann in Super Bowl XVIII? How much stock can be placed in a game that lacked its most legendary player (not its best player), Mr. McCoy?
This is what happens, ladies and gentlemen, when a "postseason" – such as it is – lasts all of one game. There's a reason why 99 percent of sports use at least two rounds of competition to decide championships. There's a reason why a national championship – barring the rare emergence of The One Perfect Scenario – simply can't be contained in one game or decided on one night. There's a reason why – in a sport with a regular season that's just 12 games long – the current system isn't nearly equipped to answer a majority of meaningful questions.
In only three of the BCS's 12 years has a national championship game eluded the taint of the word "mythical." In nine of the BCS's 12 seasons, the end of the regular season has been met with an exercise as scientific, objective and decisive as a game of Russian roulette.
We don't have to have a playoff. We don't. What college football needs, though, are three primary ingredients in future seasons, especially now that a new BCS television and scheduling arrangement will begin with the 2010 season and continue through January of 2014:
Ingredient No. 1: Have every league play a conference championship game, or have no conference championship games. The leagues who play for a spot in the BCS National Championship Game must exist on a level playing field, one way or another. Uneven situations lead to imbalanced equations that give teams from certain conferences (the SEC and Big 12) a leg up on the field in the race for the big piece of crystal. Until college football finds a uniform answer to the conference championship game issue, we'll have more messy Decembers and Januaries.
Ingredient No. 2: Have a major made-for-TV non-conference game on the schedule of every conference champion, and institute it as a twelfth game… with or without conference title games at the end of the regular season. The Texas team that competed so bravely in Pasadena on Thursday night was nevertheless a team that didn't have to play a big-time non-conference opponent. TCU and Cincinnati – for all of their bowl-game stumbles and fumbles – did notch significant non-conference scalps, but weren't rewarded for them.
It's not as though Texas didn't deserve to be in the Rose Bowl; the Longhorns had as good a claim as anyone else, and had more of a claim to this moment after getting royally jobbed in 2008. Nevertheless, if all conference champions (including the Mountain West champ and Boise State or the WAC champ) played a big non-conference game at the end of November or the beginning of December, we'd have fewer unanswered questions in this sport, and that's all anyone should ever want or hope for. We might not answer ALL questions on the table, but we can certainly eliminate questions.
This leads us to Ingredient No. 3: An elastic, provisional, conditional (read: non-automatic) plus-one.
If there's still one really big unanswered question after the bowls, have the Rose Bowl (since it's not an NFL stadium and isn't subject to a scheduling conflict) host a plus-one championship game one week after the bowls.
Come on, now: Sunday, Jan. 17, 7:45 p.m., live from Pasadena: Boise State versus Alabama. In a fair world, this is what should happen. But of course, college football insists on having mythical national championships. For shame.
2) Last year, a hypothetical vote – a vote I don't have – would have been split between Utah and Florida, in the absence of a playoff or, at the very least, the provisional plus-one outlined above.
Since Texas outfought and outplayed Alabama for most of the evening, even without Colt McCoy, of course I'm going to go there again: A ballot – if entrusted to me tonight – would be split between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Boise State Broncos.
Alabama deserves to be called the 2009 national champions of the Football Bowl Subdivision of college football. Absolutely. Just give the boys from Boise a piece of the pie, too. Shared national championships were supposedly going to be eliminated by the "objective" BCS, but we all know otherwise. Let's just man up, pretend like it's Miami-Washington in 1991… or USC-LSU in 2003… or USC-Alabama in 1978… or Penn State-Nebraska in 1994… Miami-Auburn in 1983… or Michigan-Nebraska in 1997… and split a vote between Boise and Alabama.
Tide fans, who should rightly revel in a mountaintop moment, do not need to feel guilty in the face of Colt McCoy's untimely injury. People throughout the state of Alabama should party like it's 1993, the last time a Bama bunch celebrated a national championship. All that's being asked of the citizens of Tuscaloosa and everywhere else "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer!" is proclaimed is that Boise State should share the stage as a college football crown-wearer. It doesn't diminish Alabama's accomplishments or stature – not in the least – to have the kids from Idaho standing on the medal platform with an additional set of gold medals draped around their necks.
For yet another season, if we're not going to bother to have a playoff, let's not insult the intelligence of fans by insisting that only one team can or should be called champion.
Alabama, congratulations on a hard-earned and well-deserved national title.
Boise State, congratulations on the same. Now both of you, go home happy… and Tide fans, don't think that anything's being taken from you as a result.
-Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
Nick Saban found out the hard way. If Colt McCoy doesn't get hurt and throw the Texas offense into a funk for nearly three quarters, Alabama doesn't win. If the Longhorns score touchdowns instead of field goals in the first quarter, Alabama doesn't win.
If the Crimson Tide had lost, it would have been all on Saban. A disastrous fake punt gave Texas the early edge. Even more baffling was a 52-yard field goal attempt when Alabama was dominating the game simply on the basis of field position.
-The great freshman quarterback wave of 2009 appeared to reach its apex in week two, when Matt Barkley and Tate Forcier lead last-second wins over Ohio State and Notre Dame. That almost changed in Pasadena in the biggest game of the season.
Garrett Gilbert overcame major first-half jitters to nearly engineer the stunner of all stunners. Once he got rolling in the last ticks of the third quarter, it felt as if Alabama would need a miracle to hang on.
The shadow of McCoy was destined to loom large over the Texas program in years to come, but now the transition looks far easier. The Longhorns will be back in the mix in 2010.
-The BCS started because of petty jealousies over the Rose Bowl's status. In the BCS era, the Rose Bowl has managed to hold its prestige – even elevate it – while the other three bowls have dealt with bad match ups, empty seats and marginal to poor TV ratings.
Outside of the forgettable Oklahoma-Washington State game, has any other BCS bowl welcomed more superpowers, more superstars or more memorable moments than the granddaddy of them all?
It wasn't pretty, but pretty doesn't count in the National Championship Game. All that matters is the crystal football – and that's exactly what Alabama is taking back to Tuscaloosa. But let's be honest, this game was won by the head coach made the second-worst coaching blunder.
Nick Saban got the shenanigans started off early with a backwards three-and-out, followed by an ill-fated fake punt deep in his own territory that was intercepted on the first drive of the game. Then, with a marginal lead and 30 minutes to play, Saban went into a shell that would have made Tommy Tuberville proud, allowing Texas to get back to within three. You'd think that would be enough to lose, but it wasn't.
Not to be outdone, with under 30 seconds to play in the first half following an Alabama field goal, Mack Brown called a draw, then a timeout, and then a shovel pass that got intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Why not just kneel on it? It's obvious that the Longhorns were trying to run the clock and maybe get something to pop. With backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert on the biggest stage that any college player could possibly have, take it into the locker room and come out firing in the second half. But Gilbert threw the pick six, and that one play is what determined the 2009 National Champion. That one play shouldn't have happened, and the blame falls squarely on Mack Brown.
If Colt McCoy hadn't gone out, would it have been different? Yeah, probably. I think it's certain that Texas wouldn't have looked so bad on offense in the first half. But in the end, Alabama takes home the eighth National Championship in its illustrious history. Some people will devalue the game due to McCoy's injury, but Alabama won this the way they've been winning all year – with defense. It started in the first half holding Texas to two field goals early. It ended with an Eryk Anders sack and forced fumble, putting the final nail in the coffin. It was only fitting.