It is with great sadness that I write this column today (and fatigue because of last night’s late thriller of a game). The Clemson Tigers are your national champions and I have a smattering of things to say about it.
Let’s get to the last Option of the year.
Clemson withstands initial onslaught, shines down the stretch…
I’ll be honest, I did not have this pick. I had Clemson covering the ridiculous spread, but not winning outright. You’ll hear Bama fans complain about missed offensive pass interference and phantom defensive pass interference, but the bottom line is that the Tide was out hustled in the waning 5 minutes and lost because of it. Also, you have to think that Brent Venables is staying at Clemson because he has zero ambition for a head coaching position, not unlike Bud Foster for VPI. He is more than capable of getting that promotion if he wants it, I just can’t find anything that suggests he wants it.
Anyway, let’s talk about those closing touchdowns. The penultimate touchdown for the Tigers is where I take exception. Jordan Leggett drive blocked his defender into the end zone. The first 3 yards are basically the “freebie box” for this type of behavior, beyond that, the Rule is clear: it’s OPI. Leggett made no effort to get off the pick and his block freed the spilling receiver up to score untouched. It was an egregious foul and should have been called. The game winner was not OPI. Clemson was on the two and the defender initiated the contact. That was just a good play. Still, as bad as the first one was, I can understand the griping on both. But just understand that being mad at the second touchdown is you being mad at the Rule, not a missed call.
Speaking of missed calls, let’s talk about the zebras. Honestly, they did a much better job than they’ll ever get credit for. The game was emotional, but was kept in control by Defee from the Big XII–but, come on, no one was going up against him with those guns he smuggled into the stadium. But, this crew will be remembered for its unwillingness to call targeting and its inexperience officiating receivers who block and defenses that are worth a damn. The Big XII does not play a lot of defense and the scoring in that conference forces crews to turn a blind eye to receiver downfield picks. It’s no wonder Defee and company weren’t equipped to call the game.
In that same vein (popping out of Defee’s arm), let’s squash the neutral conference officiating thing. These guys are paid to be professionally impartial; what message are we then sending when we won’t put affiliated conference officials on these games? It’s like, “Well, we trusted you to call these games during the season which included non-conference games, but you can’t be trusted to fairly call the same type of game when it’s for all the marbles.” Give me a break. We are falling over ourselves to appear impartial and have facilitated a less-than-optimal result. The B1G, ACC, and SEC all have football like what was played last night. Those crews are better equipped to call that kind of ball. Make a dream team, stack rank across conferences, whatever–I don’t care what you do, but the best officials should call this game, not the best officials who are unaffiliated with the conferences playing. Sometimes those things are the same; this time, though, they’re different.
All told, this was a pretty good season, and last nights game was great if you can get past the boring first half and the fact that ESPN screwed everyone by having a 4 and a half hour game. Still, it was a nice capstone for a great season.
Some Parting Shots for Fans
Florida Gators: November flameouts need to stop happening. Also, many UF fans look dumb cheering for the Tide and then rubbing Clemson’s victory in Alabama’s face. It’s not just UF, it’s most of the SEC. Pick one, you can’t have both.
Florida State Seminoles: Clemson is not your team. You can be proud of the ACC for being the top conference this year (it is), but they stand in your way in both your division and conference. I don’t get the euphoria at them winning. Remember too, y’all have a great shot at being a national title team next season as you have to play both of those national championship game teams early, but you have to go through Clemson. Still, without Watson, FSU is my pick for ACC rep in the playoff next year.
Georgia Tech: You’ve got to stop believing your own joke. Going 3-0 against the basement of the SEC east proves nothing, but it’s been gaining steam that it’s nothing short of proof that the ACC is better than the SEC top to bottom. Don’t let that interfere with the narrative or the joy going into next season. Your replacement QB is a big question mark, but Tech may contend for the coastal–a resurgent VT and Miami could mean trouble, though.
Ohio State: You have got to stop calling for Urban’s job. And you’ve got to start shouting down the idiots who do. That is easily the most laughable overreaction to a loss that I’ve seen in awhile.
Alabama: you’ve got to let the missed PI calls go. You’ve got to stop blaming Scarbrough’s heart (he broke his leg). Clemson was a great team who didn’t quit. Losing hurts, but you lost to one of the best teams in football. It’s going to be okay. Saban will win more titles.
I’m excited for next year. Join me this summer for more long form posts and hopefully podcasts about college football. I have enjoyed every minute of it.
Thank you all for reading.