Review of the BCS National Championship Game

From my blog

It wasn't easy. Alabama overcame an inspired comeback. Texas gave an heroic effort behind a freshman quarterback and an outstanding wide receiver. Alabama overcame two early turnovers. Texas intercepted a pass on a fake punt and inexplicably failed to field a short kickoff. Alabama overcame tons of history - the Heisman jinx, the underdog advantage, the 0-7-1 record against the Longhorns, and the fact that no coach in the modern era had ever won a national championship at two different schools. But Alabama did overcome, winning the 2009 BCS National Championship over the Texas Longhorns 37-21.

More after the jump...

My Seven Points:

1. Alabama was able to win the game because they were able to run the ball. Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram had 22 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns, fighting through a hamstring injury, while Trent Richardson ran 19 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line was able to consistently block Texas, who had the top-ranked rushing defense in the country coming into the game and had not allowed a team or a back to rush for 100 yards all season.

2. Nick Saban is the best college football coach in the country. You can make the case that Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll, Mack Brown or Jim Tressel deserve consideration for that title. But Saban has done something that no other coach in the modern era has ever done - win national titles at two different colleges. Building winning football programs at one school is difficult, and winning a national title is rare. Building winning football programs at multiple schools is the sign of a great coach, but the catching lightning in a bottle in two totally different situations is virtually impossible. A majority of the nation believed when Alabama hired Saban from the Miami Dolphins that expectations of a national title among 'Bama fans were unrealistic. Saban was a liar and untrustworthy. He was overpaid. Alabama was living in the past. Rarely do so many people get proven wrong so thoroughly.

3. This may be the best TEAM in Alabama history. Alabama has a great history. The 1920 Crimson Tide paved the way for Southern football to be taken seriously with a 9-7 victory over Pennsylvania. The 1925 Tide defeated Washington in the first Rose Bowl ever for a team from the South. The 1961 Tide allowed only 25 points in ten games. In 1979 Alabama finished 12-0 and won Bear Bryant's sixth national title.

But consider this: Alabama won 14 games this season - the most ever for a Tide team, and a feat matched only by three other teams (BYU 1996, Ohio State 2002, Boise State 2009). Alabama had six first-team All-Americans on this team, the most by any school ever. Alabama's Mark Ingram won the Heisman trophy, the first ever for the Tide. Rolando McClain won the Butkus Award, only the second in Alabama history. Leigh Tiffin led the country in field goals. Javier Arenas broke records for punt return yardage. Oh, and Greg McElroy has never lost a game as a starter. Top to bottom, this team is probably the most talented Crimson Tide squad, and the highest-achieving team in Alabama history.

4. The SEC is unquestionably the dominant football conference. Every year the college football world argues about which conference is the best. Every head-to-head matchup and bowl showdown is touted as "proof" that the ACC is terrible or the Mountain West is better than the Big Ten. But with Alabama's win tonight, the SEC has won four national championships in a row - the first time that has ever happened. Three in a row from one conference has happened twice before - 1940-1942 (Big Ten: Minnesota twice and Ohio State) and 1978-1980 (SEC: Alabama twice and Georgia), but the SEC has dominated since the BCS was implemented in 1998, winning six of the 12 titles, never having lost the game. (One might also argue that the 13-0 Auburn squad from 2004 should have been there as well.) Clearly, the level of competition in the SEC is head and shoulders above the level of competition in any other conference. Throw in Florida, who will finish no lower than third in the country and destroyed an unbeaten Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl, and even in what was termed a down year, the SEC's best still dominate.

5. Texas deserved to be in the title game. After Texas slipped by Nebraska in the Big 12 title game 13-12, many thought that the Longhorns weren't worthy of a title shot. The pundits said that TCU was stronger, or that Cincinnati deserved a shot. Clearly, now that the dust has cleared, Texas proved that they could go toe-to-toe with the Tide, while Cincinnati and TCU were both exposed in their bowl games. The Longhorns lost all-star quarterback Colt McCoy to a shoulder injury early in the first quarter, and had to throw an untested freshman - Garrett Gilbert - into the fire of a championship game. Texas adjusted, played defense, and cut a 24-6 lead to 24-21 and had the ball in the last three minutes with a chance to drive for the win. Injuries are a part of the game, and I'm sure that Texas fans will always wonder what might have been, but the 'Horns made a valiant effort to win the game when everyone thought that they had no chance without McCoy.

6. How long will it be before Nick Saban has a statue on the Walk of Champions? Four Alabama coaches have statues on the walkway to enter Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa - Paul 'Bear' Bryant, Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, and Gene Stallings - all of whom won national championships at Alabama. So now that Saban has the 2009 title, when will his statue be erected? Saban, predictably, doesn't care about the statue, and probably won't give it one thought on his own. But I suspect that Alabama will have a Nick Saban statue on the Walk by the time San Jose State visits the upgraded 101,000-seat stadium in September of 2010.

7. Can Alabama repeat? Even harder than winning a national title is winning repeat titles. Pundits predicted that Florida, who won the 2008 title and had Tim Tebow and their entire defense returning in 2009, would win the title this year. Of course the Gators fell short in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama. No team has repeated for the championship since Nebraska in 1994-95, although the AP broke ranks with the BCS and made USC its champion in 2003 (the Trojans won the BCS in 2004).

Alabama will lose a number of defensive starters to graduation and the NFL. However, the fact that McElroy, Ingram, Richardson, and Julio Jones, among others, will return in 2010 and that Alabama has recruited extremely well since Saban took over the reins probably means that the Tide will start 2010 at or near the top of the polls next year. Florida will lose a host of players to the NFL in February, and uncertainty at the head coaching position leave the Gators as a big question mark. No other SEC team appears poised to take the divisions away from the Tide and the Gators though. As we've seen, winning the SEC correlates pretty strongly to winning the national title. And of course, Alabama has already won repeat titles three times in its history - 1925-26, 1964-65 and 1978-79.

So, let's savor this one tonight. Tomorrow, "The Process" continues!

FanPosts are just that; posts created by the fans. They are in no way indicative of the opinions of SBN and the authors of Roll Bama Roll.

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