Monday, October 22, 2018
  • USF Sports Bulletin
  • Joey Knight

College Football Playoff: Lasting impressions from an Alabama classic

What’s your lasting impression of Alabama’s 26-23 overtime win over Georgia in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night? Here’s what the Times’ college football coverage team had to say about the instant classic:


Matt Baker, @MBakerTBTimes: I’m going to have to learn how to spell Tua Tagovaiola. He’s not going anywhere (sorry, Jalen Hurts). Oh, and neither is the Crimson Tide. Or Georgia. Get used to seeing these two battle on big stages hopefully with more endings like that one.


Joey Knight, @TBTimes_Bulls: While Bear Bryant is and will forever be the most revered figure in Alabama history, Nick Saban is its greatest coach. His quintet of national titles in Tuscaloosa have been earned in the 85-scholarship era, when championships are much harder to win. Moreover, his fabled “Process” has endured through myriad coordinators, and quarterbacks both green and grizzled. If any doubts lingered about his greatness, they dissipated when he chose to bench seasoned QB Jalen Hurts for freshman Tua Tagovaiola at halftime. Turned out to be as brilliant as it was bold.  


Traci Johnson, @TBHomeTeam: Never count out Nick Saban. The man seemingly loses a key coordinator before every title game. Sometimes it’s a distraction (see, Lane Kiffin). Sometimes it’s not (see, Jeremy Pruitt). This was supposed to be a down year. The injuries were significant. The kicking game stunk to high heaven. The fan base was restless and a QB controversy was brewing. Yet, Bama still was the favorite and prevailed after a nasty first half Monday night. That’s the genius and mastery of Saban. No one does in-game adjustments better.


Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: It would be a great idea to compare what Alabama has done to the other great college football dynasties: 1940s Notre Dame, 1960s Alabama, 1980s Miami, 2017 UCF. But you just can’t. It’s still going on, but Nick Saban and “the process” have rewritten all the rules for judging excellence. There will never be anything like this again.


Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: Of the 11,000 running backs that carried the ball Monday night, Georgia’s Sony Michel stood out the most. He rushed for 98 yards on 14 carries and looked like a better NFL prospect than teammate Nick Chubb. He lit up Oklahoma a week ago, too, gaining 222 yards from scrimmage on 15 touches and scoring four touchdowns. While the Bucs have more pressing needs at defensive end, cornerback and offensive guard, I wonder how much they’d be tempted to take him on Day 2 of the draft in April. It’ll be hard to pass on a dual threat as elusive and explosive as he is.


Mike Sherman, @MikeSherman: The emotion swing of the whole night. From my personal apathy toward a hum-drum first half, to the thrill of the Alabama comeback, to the sympathy for Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos after missing a potential game-winner. From the guts of Nick Saban to switch quarterbacks at halftime to the wonder of Tua Tagovailoa’s performance to the class of Jalen Hurts. And then for Saban to come right out and say this was the happiest he’s ever been. This from a guy who usually caps a championship by talking about the need to get back to work Tuesday morning. Thank you, Alabama, for a great evening of sports entertainment — and a Sunday school lesson to boot.