Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A game for the ages

As opposed to the four NFL games played last weekend, the college football championship game last night was one of the best contests ever.  My favorite all time college game is still the Miami 1984 victory over Nebraska. And second place is the Texas win over USC in 2006.  But the game last night may be number three.

In the last few minutes Clemson went ahead compelling Alabama to respond-and they did.  Then with a minute or so to go, Clemson had to retaliate.  With one second left Clemson scored the winning touchdown. So exciting.  Alabama is one of the toughest college defensive teams ever, and Clemson scored two essential touchdowns in less than half a quarter.

Anyone who has read my blogs about college football (and retained the tiny bits of wisdom spewed therein) knows that annually--before the current four team playoff system--I railed against the bogus nature of a national championship in college football. The erstwhile bowl system was a joke and national champions were determined by journalists who selected the best two teams in the land. And these two selected teams played for the trophy.

The current system is very good.  Four teams are invited to participate in a tournament. Other excellent teams play in bowl games which have been rendered more meaningful because there is no illusion that these contests are in any way going to determine a champion.

The college game is so different from the NFL.  Deshaun Watson played a magnificent game last night at quarterback for Clemson.  He declared today that he will forego his last year of eligibility and play professionally next year.  He will get a big contract, but he will never make it big in the NFL.  It's not because he is not great, it is because the quarterback position in the NFL bears no resemblance to the quarterback position in the pros.  In the previously mentioned Texas USC game in 2006, Vince Young, the quarterback for Texas, was plain unbelievable.  He lasted one or two years in the NFL.  Matt Leinart the quarterback for USC had about the same longevity.  RG 3, a great college quarterback, is marginal in the pros.  Remember David Klingler, who was supposed to be the second coming.  After a few years as a professional he now is teaching about the second coming in a Theological Institute.

Seven of the eight quarterbacks remaining in the NFL playoffs are just great.  Most of them were not stars for elite teams when they played. Roethlisberger played for Miami of Ohio.  Brady shared quarterback duties for most of his time in Michigan. Ryan played for Boston College. Dak Prescott labored for Mississippi State.  Wilson played for two different colleges. Rodgers played for Cal-Berkeley and was not drafted until late in the first round. The only one of the seven who was heralded is the most bland of them all, Alex Smith, now the quarterback for the Chiefs.

Most colleges now have a run-option offense. This means the quarterback has an option to hand the ball off or run himself on many plays. The great  college quarterbacks can run and throw.  A quarterback who runs regularly in the NFL is a goner. They will just get whacked too many times. Ask Michael Vick or RG 3, or Vince Young, three quarterbacks who could not be stopped in college. They were regularly injured in the pros.

Still the college game can be exciting. It is just different.  Yesterday I wrote that the pro games this past weekend were stinkers. Last night's college championship was the antithesis, an antidote for the football fan.

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