If you haven’t heard, Alabama and LSU will play a football game tonight, six weeks after the end of the college football regular season, to determine which of them is the mythical (real BCS) national champion. Does anyone out there except Alabama and LSU fans by now care?
The teams met earlier this year, in the first of this season’s “game of the century” matchups. Inflation, i.e., currency devaluation, isn’t just something that afflicts money. Words are a sort of currency, and each succeeding year they seem to lose more and more value. Case in point–the European fiscal “crisis” has now been going on for over a year. Nothing that lasts over a year is a crisis–defined in my American Heritage as “a crucial or decisive point or situation.” Money gets cheaper. Words get cheaper. Does anything in human society retain its value? In just one year we get two games of the century, and the century is only twelve years old.
After battling to a four-field-goal tie (two apiece) in regulation time in the first game, LSU kicked a field goal to win in overtime. Bama had failed to move the ball and missed on its own long field goal try (the fourth miss of the game) on the first overtime possession. Bama got beat in overtime worse than the score indicated.
Can Bama win this time? Sure. Will they? Who knows, and really, does it matter? Even if they win, it only means the teams are tied for the year. Maybe they could extend the season into the vernal equinox and play just one more game–the rubber match–to see which is really the best team.
Bama, if it wins, will lay claim to its fourteenth mythical national championship, which I believe would be the most mythical national titles of any major college football program. But it’s all still mythical. Until the colleges institute a playoff system like every other sport that awards a champion (all the pro leagues; even Divisions II and III, or whatever the lower divisions are called now, in college football, do so), then there is no such thing as a national champion. LSU, on the other hand, won a real title this year (the SEC championship). Conference championships are won on the field, by teams actually playing each other. Without a playoff system to determine which conference champion is best (and perhaps a few wild-card entrants like the NFL, et al, allows), amongst teams that generally don’t play each other, there is only speculation as to which team is the national champion.
Are each of LSU and Alabama better than either Oregon or Oklahoma State? There’s no telling. Oregon lost to LSU in the regular season, but so did Bama. Oklahoma State beat Stanford in its bowl game. Could it have beaten Bama? Who knows?
Though nominally a Bama fan (except that the tribe would surely kick me off the reservation for the blaspheme of admitting all of Bama’s national championships are mythical), I’m really less interested in tonight’s game than in next week’s NFL matchup between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots.
Tim Tebow was nothing less than spectacular last night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, playing just like he did at Florida, when his talent made legions of enemies out of Bama fans. I hated him then (and not because of his piety, but because he was so damned good). As Tebow annihilated the Steelers, my favorite pro team, I felt the hatred being kindled anew. But really, hating someone because they’re good is part of the fun and passion of being a fan. Hating them because of what they do off the field, or their piety on it, is nothing more than making a game into a morality play. Football is not a morality play. It is just a game, effectively, pretend hand-to-hand combat. Neither God nor the state has any vested interest in the outcome.
Tebow looked as good last night as he did in the 2008 SEC championship game, when Bama’s vaunted Nick Saban coached defense had no answer to the fade route in the corner of the endzone, or to whatever route Percy Harvin ran. As Gary Daniels, CBS color analyst for numerous Tebow games, including that one, nauseatingly pointed out again and again, Tebow was beyond good. I never understood how all these supposed quarterback experts in the NFL thought Tebow couldn’t pass. Anyone that saw him rip Bama to shreds (and a great many others) with his arm during his college career ought to have realized the kid was a great passer, he just does it from the wrong side of his body (he’s left-handed).
Can Tebow do it again? If Denver’s smart, they’ll open it up and let him play, just like last night. If statistics don’t lie (questionable), the Steelers have the best defense in the NFL. Of course, they were missing their starting safety (and a couple of others) last night, but that doesn’t explain their inability to stop Tebow and the Broncos. And the Patriot’s defense, particularly against the pass, is a joke.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos, never mind all the Tebow-mania, wouldn’t be where they are without the solid play of their defense. The Broncos lost the last game of their season by a socceresque score of 7-3 for heaven’s sake! Holding any NFL team, even the Kansas City Chiefs, to a single touchdown, especially when your offense is so inept it can’t even score a touchdown, is playing really good defense. And they did it on a day when they needed to win to ensure a spot in the playoffs (they got in anyway when the Raiders lost later that day). The Broncos defense might just be able to slow down the Brady attack enough to allow its own offense the chance to keep up. With an unleashed Tebow playing for the Broncos like he did at Florida, the Broncos could be heading for the Super Bowl.
Tebow may soon gain the acceptance and accolades that have so far eluded him as an NFL quarterback. Good for him. But don’t believe that silly commercial endorsement of some sports or energy drink he does, in which he claims everybody said he’d never make it in big-time college football, among other things. When it came time for him to play college football, nobody told Tebow he wouldn’t make it. Tebow was one of the most heavily recruited quarterbacks to ever play in the SEC. It could legitimately be claimed that Mike Shula’s (Alabama’s head coach at the time Tebow was graduating from home school, and Nick Saban’s predecessor) failure to get Tebow for the Tide sealed his fate a few years later. People always knew Tebow could play college ball. Now they’re learning he might also be able to play in the pros.
It might get interesting in New England Sunday afternoon. Oh yeah, and about tonight, Roll Tide and all that.