University of Alabama Football
It was college football at its best, with two well-matched, immensely talented and splendidly coached teams fighting it out to almost the last second.
The pundits gave a lot of credit to Nick Sabin. According to the Los Angeles Times:
Early in the fourth quarter of a deadlocked Southern dust-up Monday night, Alabama’s stoic boss man lost his mind.Alabama, used to dominating with rather conventional football, was not dominating against Clemson. Sabin explained:
He ordered his team to attempt to kick the football to itself.
The game was tied, a college football championship was at stake, and Alabama’s curled-lip curmudgeon decided this was the perfect time to play a trick.
An onside kick? Really? Really.
The Alabama popup was perfect, the Clemson kids were perfectly fooled, the ball was recovered by Alabama, the momentum was lost by Clemson, and Alabama stunningly blew open a tie into a 45-40 victory in the College Football Playoff championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Before describing how the Crimson Tide ultimately washed over an inspirationally game group of Clemson Tigers — who fought the inevitable down to the last dozen seconds — can we just get this game’s most compelling takeaway first?
Nick Saban is now the best coach in college football history.
“When the other team squeezes the formation like that, we call the ‘pop kick,’” Saban said. “I made the decision to do it because the score was [24-24] and we were getting tired on defense, and if we didn’t do something to take a chance and change the momentum of the game, we wouldn’t have a chance to win.”That it worked so well was not a fluke. Alabama players had been practicing it. Saban’s teams are prepared.
Clemson CoachFolks in Alabama can be happy for a multitude of reasons, one of them being that the coach of opposing Clemson, which played brilliantly all season and brilliantly against Alabama, is a native of their state. As ESPN put it, “Dabo Swinney overcame pain and poverty to be on the cusp of history.” Swinny actually played for the Crimson Tide in the early 1990s, although he was far from a star player. But he must have learned some important lessons. And he must have learned a good many since.
And Saban and Swinney are good buddies, who respect each other and have learned from each other. Indeed, the older and much more experienced Saban insists he continues to learn from younger coaches.
This is as good as college football gets.