Reaction to Last Night’s CFP National Championship*

*Without waiting to watch it first.

That’s right. I’m writing this at 1:15 p.m. on Monday, January 10. Kickoff for the college football national championship game is still another six-plus hours away. Why am I writing this at 1:15 p.m. the day of the game? Because I won’t have time this evening or tomorrow morning (a/k/a the day you’re reading this). So, let’s see if I can write an accurate reaction without watching the game first.

Big Win for the SEC

Man, big win for the SEC, huh? I mean, we knew that one way or another we’d have an SEC national champion, but it still feels important, right? Heck of an effort from both teams, but I don’t know how many of us were really that surprised. But, you know, the SEC underperformed this bowl season. Sure, Texas A&M didn’t even have a chance to disappoint people because Covid forced them to withdraw from the Gator Bowl, but other SEC teams (Missouri, Florida, Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and LSU) had piss-poor bowl performances, all resulting in loss.

So, tonight’s win was a big one for the SEC. The conference helped defend itself against criticism that the teams are overhyped and overrated. With an SEC national champion (and SEC national runner up), the reputation of the conference is at least partially salvaged. Big win for the SEC.

Great Work from the Winners

And, man, what a helluva win, right? I mean, I think we all expected a great effort from both sides, but ultimately the better team came out on top. And the best part is that it was a team effort. Sure, everyone made a few mistakes along the way, but overall just a great performance on both sides of the ball. I expect the program will be talking about this win for a long time.

It was great to see such games from future NFL stars. I mean, some of those guys are going to have a big impact in the League someday soon. In particular I think the defensive leadership will translate into success at the professional level. It’s not every day you see a defensive performance like last night’s. Really fun to watch. It reminds me of the performance from a few years ago, but of course that game had a different outcome.

Gracious Losers

CFP National Championship Trophy - College Football Playoff

Of course, the winners aren’t the only ones who deserve some credit for their play. Sure, things might not have worked out this year but I think the new national runners-up are going to be a force to be dealt with next season and beyond. The play from the seniors, in particular, is commendable. They really set a great example for those underclassmen, and I believe those underclassmen have a real opportunity to learn from this loss and get revenge next year.

Ultimately, however, they just didn’t quite have enough. I think some blame deserves to be placed on coaching staff, and naturally each player will think they could have done better, but overall a well-fought game. I’m sure they would like to have that bad penalty in the third quarter back. It’s a shame such a silly mistake might have cost them a chance, but football is a game of inches and I think the replay showed that an infraction was committed.

Looking Forward to Next Year

Both teams had solid recruiting classes, and I think next year this will be a fun. Unfortunately, Georgia and Alabama will not play each other in the regular season next year, but of course it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they will meet each other in the SEC Championship Game or the college football playoffs.

Nick Saban Trashes Alabama Students' Lack of Attendance | theduel

Of course, these programs are both partially defined by their coaches. I don’t think anyone was surprised by last night. Nick Saban was tough on his players, inscrutable in his interviews, and basically a walking frown who happens to be a football savant. And how could anyone have been surprised at the emotion and passion from Kirby Smart? Between them they were incredibly gracious in victory and defeat, and it’s nice to see two men at the top of their industry face off for all the marbles. I only hope we get the same level of sportsmanship next year.

Kirby Smart could do without playoff pressure Nick Saban eats up

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