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Notre Dame and Baylor entered the one-loss group in what is shaping up to be an extremely tight race for playoff consideration.

08 Jan 2010

One Foot Inbounds: Texas Toast

by Robert Weintraub

For a game that was over at halftime, the BCS Championship Game sure was a thriller. I'll refrain from the Matt Saracen references, but frosh quarterback Garrett Gilbert almost pulled off a miracle comeback for the ages. Then, just when it appeared Texas might mess with Alabama's jog to the crystal trophy, the Tide's defense, the best unit of the team, came up with the big play: a strip-smash by Eric Anders that was recovered at the Texas 2-yard line. Mr. Heisman, Mark Ingram, salted the game away with a touchdown run, and Alabama won 37-21. Nick Saban thus becomes the first coach to win BCS championships with two different schools, and the Tide completes a remarkably efficient and powerful 14-0 season. Saban gets $400,000 in bonus cash for winning it all, none of which should go to quarterback Greg McElroy, who was Rex Grossman-esque in victory. More on that later.

What looked to be a wild bunch of Longhorns were hooked early, when quarterback Colt McCoy was blasted out of the game on a hard hit by criminally underrated Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Without the franchise in there, Texas was about as potent as a herd of steer (which are castrated cattle, FYI), in the first half.

Saban looked as though he had too much time to think before the game, mind-bogglingly faking a punt on the first possession. Apparently, there was a miscommunication that prevented Alabama from checking out of the fake, but it still goes on the head coach. That set up a Texas field goal, despite McCoy being out of the game. The Longhorns had first and goal, but with no pass threat, they couldn't crack the end zone. On the ensuing kickoff, no one from Alabama bothered to catch the live ball, making it two special teams gaffes in five minutes for Saban, who prides himself on the Third Phase. Another figgie, and Texas was up 6-0. Just like when Carson Palmer was knocked from the wild-card playoff game in 2005, and Jon Kitna threw a touchdown pass to put Cincy up 7-0, dreams of miracles hung above the Rose Bowl.

Then reality punched Texas in the stomach, and in the neck, and brought a knee up to the jaw ...

Indeed, replacement quarterback Garrett Gilbert's first half stat line resembled Palmer's against the Jets in the Sunday night no-show -- 1-of-10 for minus-4 yards and two picks. You can't get too down on the kid -- coming in cold against the nation's top defense in the national championship game is probably not the scenario he dreamt about while throwing balls through a tire in Austin. Looking out at Rolando McClain, Terrence Cody, Javier Arenas, Dareus, et al. is enough to make any quarterback puke in the huddle a la Willie Beamen when he was called off the Miami Sharks bench.

Sure enough, the Alabama defense hammered away at the overmatched youngster (as Kirk Herbstreit said ad nauseum, the game was too fast for him). Meanwhile, after a slow start, the Tide's vaunted running game shredded Texas and its top-rated run defense, which hadn't faced any team with Alabama's combo of plant-and-go Mark Ingram and pure burner Trent Richardson. Guard Mike Johnson threw devastating blocks on three separate occasions, including Richardson's 49-yard touchdown sprint in the second quarter. I've said it before in this space -- Richardson is even better than Ingram, in my opinion, and when he puts on some more muscle, will be a Heisman candidate.

When Mack Brown got suckered by a meaningless nine-yard run with seconds to play in the half and called time out, it appeared to kill Texas off. The ensuing shovel pass was picked off by Dareus, who used an impressive stiff arm and spin move for the pick-6. The scoreboard read 24-6, and that was that. Apparently.

But no. Gilbert took advantage of good protection, the soft bigotry of low expectations, and the inability of anyone to cover wide receiver Jordan Shipley to rally the Longhorns. Actually, it was Texas' defense that kept the team afloat, stuffing the conservative Tide and allowing a comeback. Sergio Kindle and his group were awesome despite being up against it. Here's guessing this Kindle has a better future than those e-book readers (gimme the real thing, and yes I'm writing a book of my own at the moment). Two touchdown passes from Garrett to Shipley, plus a two-point play, and Yellow Jammer Nation was puckering tight from Anniston to Zip City.

But just as Herbstreit was pointing out Texas hadn't given up a sack all night, Eric Anders came unblocked off the blind side and hammered Gilbert to ice the game. That was a little deceiving -- Alabama did get pressure on Gilbert, especially in the first half -- but it was an incredible jinx by Herbie.

Which was fortunate for one Greg McElroy, who would've been the goat in the headlights for his taking sack after sack, completing all of six passes, and doing absolutely nothing to keep his side undefeated. Yet unbeaten they (and he) are.

So the 2009 season ends, a campaign that was supposed to be defined by the three great returning quarterbacks -- Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, and McCoy -- and winds up being defined by injuries to all three. Losing Colt in the title game so soon was a blow, but you can't say Alabama wasn't a deserving champ. That makes four in a row for the SEC, which will only make us southerners even more insufferable. And given the talent load coming back to Tuscaloosa, and the recruiting class coming to campus, a repeat in Glendale next January isn't difficult to fathom.

See you in September when the world begins anew ...

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 08 Jan 2010

109 comments, Last at 10 Jan 2010, 2:29am by Stravinsky

Comments

1
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:22am

I thought Gilbert was the most impressive player or coach on the field tonight, considering the circumstances. In fact, if he had gotten a better performance from his coaches, receivers, or the zebras, we may have been talking about the greatest off the bench performance in college football history, especially by a freshman.

Can we please avoid any coach/genius chatter after this debacle? Sheesh, if that is what 9 million a year buys, I'd hate to see what you get for 8.

2
by theslothook :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:27am

I have to admit, the moment i saw him enter the game, i had curtis painter flashbacks and to some extent, it sure started that way. That being said, he performed admirably and he should be proud, as should the texas team for how they came back and almost won. Theres no moral victories in sports, especially not with title games,but Texas should still feel good about itself even though they lost.

3
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:35am

With about 11 or 10 minutes left in the game, I was shouting at my t.v. "Fer' cryin' out loud, that kid is completely sellin' out; would somebody lend him a hand!!?". Then the Texas receivers started to catch the damned ball, and we almost had an all-timer. If Gilbert had been given a little more assistance earlier, The Goathood of Saban may have been a long discussed topic in college football circles.

4
by DoubleB :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:40am

Thus ends one of the least exciting college football seasons in memory. One of the worst champions of the decade, in a class with Ohio State 2002. And very few well-played football games. The title game was a microcosm of the season.

5
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:54am

I don't see enough college ball to agree or differ, but this game sure was a trainwreck.

9
by JoeHova :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:13am

One of the worst champions of the decade, in a class with Ohio State 2002.

Perhaps, but at least Ohio State beat one of the greatest college teams of all-time in the championship game. (Although I suppose the case could be made that Alabama did the same in the SEC title game (I wouldn't agree but some people might).)

10
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:16am

Really, an undefeated Alabama team is one of the worst champions of the decade? Not a 2 loss LSU team? Come on....because they didn't run the score up on a bunch of teams...

14
by DoubleB :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:25am

I think that 2 loss LSU team would beat this Bama team. You probably disagree.

And I don't think it's about pounding teams and scoring a ton of points, but this team has some holes and showed them at times throughout the year, namely throwing the football.

15
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:27am

Well, they did almost blow a championship game to a team playing an extremely inexperienced freshman at qb, who hadn't received many snaps in practice, and a rudimentary running attack. To say nothing of a special teams disaster.

25
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 5:59am

and an awful freshman quarterback to say the least. 15 seconds left in the first half with said quarterback and they need to go 80 yards to score.... lets give the OTHER team a touchdown. awful play call and worse execution. Gilbert grape did awful out there. didnt he have 5 turnovers???? 3 in the last 3 minutes?? ouch sorry guy but you stank up the joint

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:10am

The kid had 26 pass attempts in his college career before being inserted in the game. He likely hasn't had many snaps in practice. His coach didn't help him out at all at end of the half. His receivers didn't decide to start catching the ball until there was 10 minutes left in the game. The turnovers after the fumble on the goal line are meaningless. I thought Gilbert gave a very good account of himself.

95
by taxistan :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 6:28pm

Awful QB. You're nuts. My friend [an Alabama fan] and I agreed thar Mr. Gilbert will be a very good QB. His [even unsucessful] comeback will be the stuff of legends.

29
by RB (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 10:35am

The hit made on Colt McCoy was not just a cheap shot, but evidently it was designed to hurt the quarterback and get him out of the game. McCoy was clearly immobilized, and down for all practical purposes. The hit was vicious and unnecessary. What a way to win a national championship. The truth is that they could not win any other way.

34
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:26am

What? Does Dareus know some sort of ancient Kung Fu moves? Colt McCoy lowered his shoulder, Dareus drove into him and made the tackles. Good lord, I have heard some stupid things, but this takes it all.

52
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:43pm

New rule: no hitting QBs in the torso, either.

Look what happened.

And we wouldn't want to damage someone's throwing arm, so I guess DLs will have to find a way to bring down the QB without contacting his head, body, legs, or arms in any way.

109
by Stravinsky (not verified) :: Sun, 01/10/2010 - 2:29am

McCoy's injury was the greatest thing to happen to Texas - it gave them an excuse.

35
by whatyousay :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:29am

what?

92
by Brian Davis (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 6:11pm

Huh? Looked pretty normal to me, I'm still not really sure how he got seriously injured on that play.

93
by taxistan :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 6:12pm

RB if you think that was a dirty hit you are goofy and I am NOT an Alabama fan!

74
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:09pm

I think you might have to wait a few more years to find out whether or not this was a poor showing by Alabama. If that "extremely inexperienced freshman" wins 3 Heisman Trophies or something crazy, it'll make a lot more sense.

But you're most likely right.

75
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:28pm

Oh, don't get me wrong, I think Gilbert could have a tremendous career. What either impresses the hell out of me about Gilbert, or doesn't impress me at all about the Alabama defense, is the fact that I suspect that Gilbert did what he did, on that stage, with very limited, if any, practice snaps running the offense with the first team.

80
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:08pm

Yeah, particularly after having the utterly horrid first half the kid had. Somehow at halftime, he calmed down enough to be come a real QB. Pretty amazing turnaround, really.

37
by BooBama (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:03pm

No, because it should have been a cakewalk after McCoy went down. The Texas offense moved the ball 26 yards on 5 plays with McCoy. They average 1.9 yards per play without him in the first half. Alabama had the ball on the Texas side of the field for all of the 2nd quarter and only led 14-6 with 30 seconds left in the half. They capitalized on a freshman QBs mistakes and benefited greatly from his inability to execute. It was not a tangible feel, but clearly defined plays where the difference between McCoy and Gilbert meant the game.

Yeah, they won the game, but against a capable team, i.e. Texas with Colt McCoy, those two gaffes at the beginning of the game would have been the end. Hail Boise St.! They beat a team who's starting QB played the entire game!

43
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:11pm

I feel sorry that Texas couldn't punch it in from the three yard line on the first drive. Of course Texas couldn't run the ball well all year and it came back to bite them in the butt.

81
by Steve (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:10pm

I have to think that maybe (just maybe!) with McCoy in the game at that point they could have punched it in. Besides being their star QB he was also their leading rusher. Without him their only real choice was to try and jam it in against maybe the best defensive front in the nation, with the added bonus that Bama knew exactly what their only option was.

6
by alexbond :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:55am

While we obviously all know about McCoy's injury and how it affected the game, I think Ingraham's calf cramps in the 3rd were also a big deal. Alabama had a bunch of 3 and outs in the 3rd quarter that I feel gave Texas the chance to attempt their comeback, 3 and outs that I bet wouldn't have happened so much were Ingraham carrying the ball. He was almost unstoppable, seemed like he got 5-7 yards pretty much at will.

38
by InvalidUsername (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:05pm

Bama played part of a quarter without Ingram? Yeah, Texas played most of the game without McCoy. I would call it a wash, but clearly it hurt Texas vastly more.

41
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:09pm

Alabama played most of their game without a QB either and won.

82
by Steve (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:11pm

So that was some OTHER career undefeated, Florida destroying QB taking the snaps for Bama? What?

84
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:27pm

Did he look like the same guy to you? Much like Good Rex Grossman and Evil Rex Grossman, the same can be said of McElroy. He also was playing with some cracked ribs.

7
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:00am

That may be true, but it also might have helped if the Alabama coaching staff recognized that he was out, and hadn't called plays like they were leading by 35 points. They came very close to being the butt of jokes for a long time, and they were damned lucky it didn't happen.

8
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:06am

Glad to see Alabama pull it out and win. Not a perfect game, but the team found a way to win. Texas had the #1 rushing defense coming into the game and Alabama had 2 RBs run for over 100 yards.

11
by DoubleB :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:19am

The story is going to be McCoy's injury and the near comeback. The untold story was Bama running the ball very well. Take away the sacks and I ballpark that Bama ran 44 times for about 240. It may not have been pretty at times, but they were able to line right up and power through a very good defense.

12
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:20am

Texas had the number 1 rushing defense because they play in the Big 12, and because they had a lot of big leads. I had no preference going in, but in the 2nd half I began to root for Gilbert.

13
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:23am

I was rooting for Alabama the whole game, definitely a great ending for me.

16
by TerryW :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:37am

I don't want much college football... so is it common to see so many just-plain-unaccounted-for outside blitzers? Several times, I saw a Bama defender get to the QB untouched. And it's not like they were lining up way wide, but instead, they were just outside the oline, where they should most definitely be picked up in some way. They could've blocked down -- the tackle should have picked him up, the guard take the tackle's man, and so on. Or, depending on the speed of the guard/centre, they can come back to pick him up.

Gilbert, the oline, and the offensive coaches are all at fault for this. A defender physically beating an olineman is one thing, but no one even seeing a-not-that-wide, undisguised edge blitzer is inexcusable.

46
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:22pm

To be fair to Texas, that's what Alabama does, they disguise blitzes and come from all angels. It's part of the reason their D is so good.

55
by Miami (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:58pm

Its not disguised when you bring a safety next to your defensive end and blitz him, which seemed to be the basic blitz that Alabama brought. Or, I guess, it is disguised beacsue its so basic & easily countered, that no one does it anymore. Damn, that's genius

60
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:14pm

Yeah, the blitz that caused the effectively game-ending fumble consisted of Alabama holding up a big sign that said "WE'RE BLITZING NOW" and Texas ignoring it. There was just in general terrible o-line play last night.

61
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:20pm

On passing plays for sure, but Alabama OL had some pretty run blocks.

I don't think Alabama blitzed a safety that much in the game, mostly had the MLB or OLB blitzing. Every now and then Arenas came in for a blitz.

69
by archangel (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:55pm

I think it would be hard to spot blitzes coming from the angels. When the defenders drop out of the sky like that...

17
by Marko :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:38am

I didn't see the whole game, but the parts that I saw included some of the dumbest things I've ever seen in a game. The fake punt by Alabama? Dumb. The fact that the Texas player picked off the pass on the fake punt instead of knocking it down, costing his team about 15 yards of field position? Dumb. The shovel pass at the end of the first half, which turned into a pick six? Dumb and dumber.

I did see lots of fans before and after the game, as I live walking distance from the Rose Bowl. It was cool to see all of the fans for both teams. Everyone was decked out in school colors. And I saw many, many cars with team logos painted on them, with car flags, etc. It was quite the atmosphere.

18
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:46am

I know what you mean. Mack Brown and Nick Saban are rich from going out on the field the majority of the time with a large talent advantage over the opponent, of a kind rarely seen on Sunday afternoons. Saban tried one season as a head coach of mostly being on a level playing field, talent-wise, with his opponent, and said to hell with that.

19
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:49am

Two seasons.

Apparently fake punt was an audible by the up-man (so says ESPN)...not sure how true that is.

The great USC-Texas game of 2006 had some stupid plays in it as well (the Reggie Bush lateral..)

20
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:55am

Yeah, I forgot that it was in his second year in Miami that he assured the world that he was not going to be Alabama's head coach.

At least that Texas/USC game had some jaw-dropping plays.

94
by taxistan :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 6:21pm

The jawdropping plays in this game were by the Alabama Defence.

21
by DoubleB :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:11am

Everyone hates that call and yet if it's executed well, Bama might go up 7-0. They obviously saw something on film and felt they could take advantage of it. A little surprised they didn't take it off in a 4th and a mile situation, but that was an execution error as much as anything else.

22
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:15am

On Sportscenter, Fowler said that Reamer (the up-man) called the audible on that one. Probably something they did see on film as Texas initially lined up with 10 on the line looking like they might go for the all-out block.

24
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:21am

Oh, I can believe it was an audible. You don't have to always give your players the freedom to audible, however.

103
by Muldrake (not verified) :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 2:45pm

Actually, the dumbest play that I saw was the Texas squib kickoff in the 1st Q that Alabama decided not to field. How can you not know that it's a live ball? Boggles the mind.

The onside kick where Texas rifled the ball at one of the upbacks, riccocheting it off him and then recovering the ball was kind of awesome though. I would think it would be hard to have enough control to do that.

23
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:18am

If the expectation is that a non-qb will perfectly execute a pass like that, then I'd say it is a bad call. Yes, it'll sometimes happen, like with the Boise State fake, but quite often it won't. I can't see it as a good call early in game with an opponent which does not have a significant talent advantage.

What's weird is that they go from silly risks in the first half, to silly conservative play in the 2nd. It almost cost them the game.

40
by InvalidUsername (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:08pm

What's weird is that they go from silly risks in the first half, to silly conservative play in the 2nd. It almost cost them the game.

Yup, and that is your college national championship team. A bit of a let down, is it not?

26
by ChrisH :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 9:46am

One thing that drove me crazy is that I'd expect when you pay Mack Brown $5 Million a year, he'd have some damn idea of how to manage the clock. After the fumble that Alabama recovers at the 3, there was 3:02 left, you're down 3, and you're going to give up another score. You only have two timeouts. I have no idea why Texas decided to not call a timeout after 1st down (they did after 2nd down), so when Alabama scored on 3rd down, there was only 2:01 left instead of potentially 2:40.

Look, Alabama is likely going to score there, and they're likely going to do it before 4th down. Why not call timeouts the first two plays so if you are down 10, then you have the most possible time left. If they don't score on 3rd, and you're now out of timeouts, well then you held them to a field goal, you're only down 1 score, and you don't need that extra 40 seconds nearly as much. Totally simple, drove me absolutely insane that you can make that much money and not know to call a timeout correctly. Texas finished the game with one timeout remaining, of course.

27
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 10:09am

The shovel pass at the end of the first half was one of the singly stupidest calls I've ever seen. You're down 17-6, your star QB is out, you've got a freshman in there who's playing in his first real game in the national championship game, you need a good 30 yards for a field goal, and there's 15 seconds left. And you're not running the clock out? Why? Why in God's sake are you trying a shovel pass? Just get the hell to halftime, calm yourselves down, and get back out for the second half.

30
by Marko :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:06am

The first thing I thought after the play was that it reminded me of Joe Theismann to Jack Squirek in Super Bowl XVIII. Not because the play calls were similar, but because they both were were unbelievably stupid passes at the end of the first half that turned into pick sixes which seemingly made it "game over."

33
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:20am

The moment the defender caught the ball and started running, I screamed "THEISMANN!" at the top of my lungs, at which point I had to explain to my confused seven-year-old exactly what the hell I was talking about.

I've regularly been giving him the "it's often better to not do something bad than to try to do something good" lecture while watching football (he does the "go for it, don't punt!" routine all the time), and last night's game will forever be Example Number One for that lecture.

44
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:12pm

Let it also be noted that Texas was getting the ball back at the start of the 2nd half anyways. Good grief. 5 million a year. For that?

32
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:20am

People are defending Brown's shovel pass call, saying that it is a safe play that rarely results in a turnover. Yeah, IF YOU ARE PLAYING A VETERAN QB WHO IS FULLY IN SYNC WITH HIS OTHER OFFENSIVE PERSONNEL, BECAUSE, YA' KNOW, HE HAS RAN THAT PLAY WITH THE OTHER FIRST STRINGERS MANY TIMES IN PRACTICE. Sheesh.

Let's not start on the odds of a successful shovel pass play, followed by a successful Hail Mary or field goal, with 15 seconds left on the clock.

28
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 10:24am

What pisses me off is Bama was 15/1 before the season and I was really about to put a buck on them... So in reality I was hoping Texas won so that I "wouldn't have won" 1500 bucks.

36
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 11:33am

Oh, and anybody who thinks a Boise State or TCU victory over Alabama on a neutral field would be highly unlikely isn't paying attention.

100
by CuseFanInSoCal :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 2:16am

True enough. On the other hand, an Ohio State victory would be at least an even proposition, losing streak against the SEC or no.

39
by t.d. :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:06pm

Having seen the game last night, I'd definitely vote Boise State #1.

42
by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:10pm

Amen.

45
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:13pm

Good thing you don't have a vote.

48
by t.d. :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:23pm

well, good for 'bama fans. Bad for everyone else. Fitting end to a crap season

47
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:22pm

I wouldn't vote, in order to avoid participating in a farce like how college football names a "champion". Boise State should go ahead and raise a "2009 College Football National Championship" banner at their stadium. If they want to have a cheesy-looking crystal football mounted on a trophy base, that would be fine too.

50
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:37pm

Yeah, well based on the fact their schedule is the 114th hardest in college football, I probably wouldn't vote for Boise State for #1. But that's just me, I guess, along with every other person who actually has a vote in college football.

53
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:45pm

Let's give Boise State .25 of a victory for every top 30 program which refuses to play them in a home and home. The Broncos have 21 victories this year! The greatest season in football history! Call Mercury Morris!

54
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:52pm

I am surprised they cannot hammer out a neutral site game against someone. I know Boise State isn't going down south again anytime soon for a non-conference game.

57
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:06pm

They would go to Florida, Alabama, or Georgia in a second if any prominent school would be willing to then travel to Idaho. After what they did to Oregon, however, I doubt anybody will take the chance.

59
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:11pm

They have gone to Georgia and got stomped. Of course getting Florida to leave Florida for a non-conference game is impossible anyway.

62
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:22pm

Yeah. Four years ago. Let me know when Uga is taking a trip to Boise. Last time an SEC power took on a WAC or Mountain West power on a neutral field (well, really a field that highly favored the SEC team), last night's winner got stomped.

104
by Muldrake (not verified) :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 2:50pm

Why would any major school go to Boise or any WAC or MWC school? Even if they split the gate receipts from the 10 people who show up to the game evenly they probably lose money on the trip.

108
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 4:40pm

Oregon is a major enough school to have played in the Rose Bowl, and they played at Boise. Does Oregon hate money, so they decided to lose some by doing so?

66
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:30pm

Ignoring my point, of course. Teams would play Boise State if they would be reasonable about the money, but that has nothing to do with the fact that they played one of the easiest schedules in college in 2009.

68
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:48pm

Where do you get one of those finely calibrated reasonableometers?

105
by Muldrake (not verified) :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 3:01pm

Boise reportedly wants a million dollar guarantee to play a game at a major school. So where's the upside to scheduling them? The best case scenario is that you crush Boise, get no credit for it because they're Boise, and you have to pay them a million dollars. The worst case is that you lose to Boise and drop out of BCS consideration because of it, losing out on millions more dollars, and then still pay Boise a million. An athletic director would be crazy to do that when they can pay a I-AA school less than that, have a basically guaranteed victory, and face no real stigma when it comes to the polls (I'm looking at you, Florida). Big schools get absolutely nothing out of scheduling Boise because as the final polls (which didn't have a single vote for Boise at #1 despite an undefeated season and a somewhat lackluster Bama victory without McCoy) prove everyone still considers Boise to be, well, Boise.

107
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 4:34pm

The point is that "reasonable" is strictly in the eye of the beholder. "Reportedly" is a word with an interesting history. I'm not saying you are wrong, just that unless the offers and counteroffers have been made public and confirmed, it is hard to form a hard opinion vis a vis the positions of the various parties.

If Boise is asking for what, say, Ohio State gets when they play in Austin, I can't say they are being unreasonable. I understand the logic in ducking them, which just gets back to my point; that college football sucks in how their game is organized.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:56pm

Also, the people who vote in college polls once switched Penn State's and Nebraska's positions, and subsequently named the "champion" because Paterno decided to not run up the score on Indiana. The fact that the people who vote in college polls have taken any action they do is not really indicative of anything regarding the quality of a football team.

Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not saying that Alabama is inferior to anyone.

49
by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:32pm

As for the comments that this is the worst NC team of the decade, this is a team that beat the #2 team (Texas), the #3 team (Florida), both by more than 10, the #10 team (Va Tech), the #17 team (LSU) and the #20 team (Miss).

That's 2 top 3 teams, 3 top 10 teams, and 5 top 20 teams!!! So basically, make your case that this is the worst #1 team of the decade. I dare you!

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by jack :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:00pm

Can we say quite possibly the worst quartback performance in a Championship game last decade? How about worst coaching performance or worst special teams play in a championship game last decade? Would you agree to that? I guess Bama just played down to their competition.

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by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:27pm

How can I agrue with that? Both QBs played crappy. 2 special teams breakdowns in the first 5 min! Awful.

The overall coaching was defensible, even Brown's call was understandable, given how uncertain getting any points at all was and given the extremely high percentage play the shovel pass is. A total fluke, I have never in my life even heard of a shovel pass being intercepted and returned for a TD.

Can you say it's the best team running performance of the decade? Having not one but two 100 yard rushers against a team leading the nation in run defense, having not allowed even 1 100 yard rusher all season?

Other than a few breakdowns on special teams in the first half, and 2 big plays/drives in the second, Bama played extremely well. But focus on what you want to.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:45pm

I've seen a few intercepted, and more than a few fumbled, when the back doesn't have the time to get the ball fully secured as he would with a handoff. Yes, the td return is a total fluke, but it isn't as if handing your opponent a field goal, in pursuit of a real long shot, in terms of getting points for yourself, is a stroke of genius.

I like Ingram and Alabama's offensive line quite a bit, but really, Texas' defensive ranking against the run is mostly a byproduct of the pass happy conference they play in, and the fact that Texas' offense scores a lot. Alabama's defense, considering they were playing an extremely qb-centric offense, with a true freashman qb with 26 snaps in his college career, was mediocre last night.

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by DoubleB :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:21pm

I don't think this Bama team beats OU '08, UT '08, or Florida '08 to start with. I think they are better team than 2002 Ohio State and maybe 2000 Oklahoma.

It was a pretty weak year in college football with a lot of very good teams and nobody particularly dominant. It happens. Doesn't change the fact that I DO think it's pretty clear Alabama was the best and most consistent team of 2009 and highly deserving of their national championship despite not playing a clean game last night.

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by What? (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:36pm

Rankings are subjective, imprecise and often arbitrary. Example: Why is LSU ranked ahead of Miss? Miss beat them on the field, their records are the same, and Miss won the Cotton Bowl while LSU lost to a *cough* Big-10 team in their bowl game. Another: why is USC ranked and Stanford unranked? Stanford smoked USC in humiliating fashion and lost their bowl game because their QB was hurt.

They barely beat the #2 team without their best player. That's like saying that the Jets "beat" the Colts a few weaks ago (though I'd argue McCoy is even more important to Texas).

106
by Muldrake (not verified) :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 3:15pm

The problem is that a lot of people consider this to be one of the worst seasons as a whole in memory. Florida's best win was, what, Cincy? LSU's best win was...Washington? Georgia? Ole Miss? I have no idea. VT is led by Reggie Ball...erm, make that Tyrod Taylor. And Ole Miss? They played in the worst bowl game I have ever seen, featuring 12 turnovers and 13 punts. Ole Miss was turned away from the red zone 3 times without scoring points, including twice when starting with a first down inside the 5 and none of those three had the turnovers that were oh so prevelent. Oh, and Texas was playing with a true freshman with no real experience and still were within a field goal with a little over 2 minutes to play. So while it's not Bama's fault that everyone they played was suspect, one still gets the feeling that they haven't really beat anyone of note. This has just been a down year for college ball over all.

51
by johnmartinolive... :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 12:42pm

I thought they were pretty deserving champions over the whole year. Not a great title game but title games are often not the best.

58
by Miami (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:08pm

The best play in that game occured when Texas' kicker lined up and smacked a line drive right at the nearest Alabama player. I loved that & it definitely looked deliberate. I guarantee you that kickers all over the nation will practice hitting a human sized target on a line drive from 20 yards away this weekend.

Otherwise, to paraphrase Phil Jackson, that game reminds me why I prefer the men's game to the boy's game. Those 2, the best teams in the country, played bad games- dropped passes, missed blitzes, blown assignments. McEllroy explains why guys like Jason Campbell and JeMarcus Russell got off the bench in college. Egad.

To be fair, if the super bowl was played after a 4 or 5 week off period, that might get janky, too.

65
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:30pm

I thought the qb play in college in general, from my somewhat limited viewing time, looked really bad this year. TCU's qb just sucked against Boise State. Pryor is really, really, one dimensional. The guy at Oregon is fun to watch, but he isn't a world-beater.

63
by Dave51 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 1:26pm

I'm not sure where else to ask this, but has Tanier's mini NYT NFL playoff preview replace the long, in-depth previews of yesteryear, or are those coming tomorrow before the games kick off?

72
by Jimbo :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:46pm

Well, I'm just a simple southern man who likes fiddling and ham-boning, but I think the freshman QB acquitted himself well. The Bama QB, not so much. They should set that kid down next year despite his being a senior at that point.

As for the debate on the best or worst champs of the decade. From my recollection (and yes, I'm to lazy to research this right now) it seems that the SEC for obvious reasons provided the best champs, followed by the Big 12, Big 10, Pac 10 and Big East. It seems as if none of the other conferences (in title games) can beat the SEC, but the rest can beat each other. There seems to be difficulty in a Big 10 Champion beating anyone unless they face a Big East Champion. Seems like - but I'm just a simple southern man - that SEC beats all.

12>10
12=Pac, only if Pac is USC but otherwise
12>Pac
Pac>10
All>BigE

73
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 2:59pm

This was easily McElroy's worst game of the year. He isn't perfect, but there isn't a better option (redshirt freshman and a true freshman, Star Jackson is probably on his way out) and he was playing with some cracked ribs. Of course in 1992 when Alabama won it all, Jay Barker went like 3 for 11 and threw 2 picks against the Hurricanes.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:41pm

I'm a little surprised that it is difficult to find (at least I couldn't easily find it) an updated won-loss record between the various conferences, for the last 10 years, including regular and bowl seasons. I wonder how lopsided the record is between the Big 10 and SEC, and how often the SEC team travelled north. One of the things that I think would be fun about an eight team conference champ playoff system, with the first round played at home fields, would be to see an SEC or PAC 10 champ occasionally play a Big 10 or Big 12 champ in cold weather.

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by CuseFanInSoCal :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 2:48am

Big Ten fans on various blogs regularly point out the Big Ten vs. SEC record is not lopsided at all despite Ohio State's struggles, so I'm assuming that's true. Although they had trouble beating Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State and Michigan often made SEC teams look silly in the 2000s.

83
by What? (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:21pm

Um... what?

"Best champs" means that the team that won (ie this year's Bama team) is better than the other teams that won (ie last years Florida team). How you get to that from vague, bogus and un-researched claims about conference strength is beyond me.

76
by Jim B. (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:32pm

If Texas hadn't botched that dumpoff pass late in the second half that led to a walk-in touchdown by a 'Bama 300lber, they might have won this game. After scoring their second touchdown in the second half, they would have had the lead instead of being down by a few points, and then they could have played safe, ran the ball, and given the game to their dominant defense to win.

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by DaninPhilly (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:04pm

If Bama's best defensive player didn't have the flu, and their starting QB didn't have cracked ribs, they would have won by more.

86
by What? (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:29pm

Or maybe if Texas's QB hadn't missed the whole freaking game they might have won? Possible, yes?

87
by lionsbob :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:35pm

and they might have lost. Crap happens, sorry for Texas.

78
by Otis Taylor89 :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 3:58pm

Ingram was the man in that game - if he didn't have the cramps, the 3rd Qtr would have been the blowout that everyone expected.

85
by What? (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:28pm

And if McCoy isn't hated by God for some reason (apparently Bear Bryant has some pull up there), Texas goes up 14-0 5 minutes into the game.

The Texas defense, despite being hung out to dry by their offense, held Bama to 17 meaningful points. Not bad.

102
by Keith Olbermann is a moron (not verified) :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:05am

If there is a God, and He actually cares about who wins football games, I don't think he'd intervene on behalf of Nick Saban.

88
by Jimbo :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 4:36pm

@What?
I'll be the first to admit that my posting is unresearched (which I did in the posting). The "best is my vague way of saying that the champion of conference A is more likely to beat the champions of the other conferences. This all from my vague recollection that if the title game (or other bowl games, and rare regular season meetings) has the SEC champion against any other conference champion (or a top three participant from the SEC versus a top three participant from the other conference) the SEC seems to win most of the time. And my other vague recollection is of the other conferences beating each other according to my crappy little, greater than, list. Lastly I like paranthesis and think you're all right.

90
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 5:11pm

I get the sneaky suspicion that there's so much hostility towards Bama because they don't run a metrosexual empty-back set pass offense. Sorry it doesn't jibe with your magic formula of how football should be played. I'm sure they're real concerned in Tuscaloosa.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 5:30pm

Yeah. That's it.

96
by DoubleB :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 7:27pm

I don't think it's that. It's that Alabama didn't complete the blowout when Texas was ripe to be crushed. "How could Alabama let a true freshman backup QB lead his team back into the game? How is that national championship material?" And the point that Bama didn't play their best game is pretty self-evident. But they aren't the first title team to play their B-/C+ game for a championship and still come out a winner.

Ironically, it's how a lot of people felt about Texas a month ago when they nearly threw the Big XII title game away against Nebraska. There was a lot of hostility towards Texas then.

97
by tsmonk (not verified) :: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 10:49pm

So... it was a bad game because Texas fought back and played well under a talented young QB?

98
by t.d. :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 2:01am

if Jevan Snead never transferred, Texas would be national champions. As good an effort as that was under the circumstances, the kid basically gifted Bama two touchdowns and wasted numerous opportunities in the first half.

99
by lionsbob :: Sat, 01/09/2010 - 2:08am

Snead against Alabama in 2 games:
1 TD, 5 picks, 41% completion percentage, 332 yards, and a 0-2 record. Maybe he would do better in Burnt Orange and White though....