The biggest reason fans purport to love college football is the upset. Some big WOW games quickly come to mind. USC-Stanford! Michigan-Appalachian State! Kick six! Unfortunately, the playoff that supposedly would bring more drama has sucked all of it away. Alabama has made all five, Clemson, the last four. College football quickly approaches NCAAW predictability with only two teams having a chance. But life’s what we make of it. Instead of more grumpiness, why not celebrate the greatness of two inspiring programs?
The brilliant improvement led by Dabo Swinney almost brought the Tigers to the 2015 title, but time ran out as Alabama celebrated. Deshaun Watson memorably delivered the next season on a touchdown pass with one second left. One ESPN writer even predicted that such a win would go “beyond transcendence”. Um, what? Considering the huge reputation and recruiting boost the win earned, maybe this wasn’t hyperbole. Saturday Clemson thoroughly dominated outmatched Notre Dame 30-3. If the school can win the easier second title, they’ll shed the label of “elite, but not quite as much as Alabama”.
When Nick Saban won his first Alabama title in 2009, the subsequent Sports Illustrated headline simply read “Dynasty”. Uh-oh! Surely a kiss of death from a publication famous for terrible predictions. Alabama has only lost 12 games since. It seems that Saban has only smiled once, however, after Tuanigamanuolepola (or just Tua) and 26. But after a 2010 letdown, returning Tide players now get exactly two days to celebrate. That’s why a second straight title January 7th would be such a downer: the countdown to a seemingly inevitable and unprecedented three-peat would begin immediately. Who should we call to cancel our season tickets?
While friction always stops the pro dynasties (see: Bulls, Yankees), college culture can ensure decades of success. So don’t expect the Tide and Tigers to relinquish their roles as King and Archduke. As for the 118 lesser teams in FBS? Victory is still possible, but it’ll take more than a Hail Mary: in 2019 quarterbacks should practice speed-reading rosaries.