Alabama won college football's national championship in overtime last night. It was a game that had everything, both on and off the field.
1. The President of the United States Attended
The night got off to a bad start for far too many fans, thanks to the arrival of President Donald Trump. Not his fault, as any presidential visit to a stadium requires a lot of extra security, but one gate was entirely shut down for at least an hour. The wait to get into the stadium took up to two hours! And did we mention it was raining and 37 degrees?
But we heard later that the lines had cleared in time for kickoff, and pretty much everyone who had paid $1000 or more for tickets had a chance to see the entire game.
When Donald Trump took the field, we saw political spin at its finest. I was keeping an eye on Twitter, and the biggest Trump bashers were thrilled to hear the chorus of boos raining down. Except that Trump's biggest supporters heard cheers -- an outpouring of love and support for the President. The truth, I think, lies somewhere in the middle. There were lots of cheers, lots of boos -- exactly what you'd expect when a polarizing President comes to a game.
And then there was the National Anthem itself. People watched Donald Trump singing and weren't convinced he actually knew the words.
The President left the game by halftime and didn't stick around to see Alabama's thrilling comeback.
2. A Critical Missed Field Goal
I can't lie, I was a little worried for Alabama's placekicker after a botched field goal that would have ended the game and given the Crimson Tide another title. It should have been an easy chip shot for Andy Pappanastos, but he hooked it wide left and the overtime was on.
Most of us are good people and understand that a missed field goal, or an unexpected turn of events is part of the game. And yes, I honestly wonder why South Alabama seems to always get better placekickers than Alabama. But there are nuts out there, and I can't imagine how bad it would have been for him if that missed kick had cost the Tide its title. Not to mention the personal grief he'd live with for the rest of his life. It's only a game, but it's also a team -- and no one wants to let down his team. I was relieved to see Alabama come back and make that kick meaningless.
3. A Gutsy Quarterback Change
When the second half started, fans expected to see Jalen Hurts trot back out on the field. That's not what happened. Nick Saban wanted a spark, and he brought out his freshman backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Great move, as we all know. It changed the game plan and Georgia seemed unprepared. He's a freshman, so he made freshman mistakes -- a bad throw that was intercepted, and a sack in overtime that could have cost Alabama the game. But he came through when it most mattered and led the Tide's charge in the second half -- ultimately leading to that overtime win.
4. Jalen Hurts Shows Us All How to Act
The starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide watched the game from the sidelines for the entire second half and overtime. He didn't have a great first half when he was on the field. Getting benched will put a lot of players in a bad mood.
Not Jalen Hurts. Not only was he cheering on his backup quarterback as much as anyone on the team, he was gracious enough to talk to ESPN after the game. He displayed pure class, and is as much a champion as anyone on that Alabama team. I think his parents taught him well.
5. We Got Stressed Out -- Really Stressed Out
The Saints playoff game on Sunday was stressful enough, but followed by this? Nobody wanted to check their blood pressure after Monday night's game. But when all was said and done, Alabama was celebrating a championship. Fans were trying to wind down so they could go to bed.
And folks in Georgia? Well, this is starting to become a trend. Last year, in the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead. This year, in college football's championship, the Georgia Bulldogs blew a 13-point lead.
It was a great game! I think this year proved that the playoff system is a mess and needs to be expanded, but Alabama is a fantastic champion. They did what it takes, and they won it all. Nick Saban is now arguably the most successful football coach in college football history.