MIAMI GARDENS, Florida – At the end of a long, grueling, weird, awkward season for college football, we finally got a little bit of normalcy as the last seconds disappeared on Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium: Alabama, lifting another trophy from the national championship after a victory in a dominant, historical fashion.
Only a few spectators were left to see the celebration, a small fraction of the approximately 14,000 fans admitted to the facility, given all existing restrictions. In every other year the field is subjected to friends, family, media, photographers, staff of the event in a big celebration, which takes place 10 deep on the improvised stage. On Monday night, a lone player made snow angels in the fallen confetti, as teammates hugged only the team̵
Winning everything in Alabama felt like an inevitable end, of course, as the most dominant coach in the sport brought together the most dominant team with the most dominant players. For those who just tune in on Monday at the National Football College Championship, presented by AT&T against Ohio, believing that they could, maybe just look at a racing game, they saw an exhibition № 13 showing why the Buckeyes just didn’t stand a chance.
The Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith, owned the state of Ohio so completely that he snatched many records from the titles before halftime and would have broken more if he hadn’t sprained a finger from his right hand. Najee Harris was running back, bulldozing through the Buckeyes with such force, their collective wills inevitably broken. Leading the way was quarterback Mac Jones, who organized another almost flawless offensive performance while, yes, setting his own championship records along the way.
The Crimson Tide cannot be stopped during the season. They could not be stopped in the 52-24 performance won by the championship, which no one will soon forget.
“For me, this team has achieved almost every team,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who won a record seventh national title. “I played 13 games, we were undefeated with all the breaks we had this season. I think there’s a lot to write about when it comes to the team’s legacy.”
This Alabama team will have its special place in history and rightly so. What this team has achieved exceeds the points and the fantastic statistics and Heisman. Players from all over the sport have sacrificed more than ever; they endured more than ever; they were challenged both physically and mentally in ways that remain difficult to understand.
They played football during a pandemic.
He may not delve into how remarkable this season really was until much later, perhaps years later, in time to reflect on the extraordinary circumstances in which it all happened.
“It was an unprecedented year with many hardships,” Alexa Kozwood said of the Alabama offensive. “But we just stayed on course. We tried to stay focused and took everything day after day, and we really got everyone bought and locked into what we wanted to achieve – and we came out the winners.”
Ohio also insists on this opportunity, believing that there is a team of champion caliber with Justin Fields. Although the Buckeyes started their season later than Alabama, they dealt with countless coronavirus problems to get to this point – and even discussed whether to postpone this championship game because they had more problems with COVID-19 in the last week.
All this speaks to the uncertainty that has filled this season. No one really knew if college football would reach the finish line, as the coaches basically told everyone who listened, “You’re as good as your last test.” The season felt uncertain every day as coaches, players and coaches held their breath awaiting the results of the coronavirus test.
This only increased the pressure on the players, as they did their best to comply with all safety protocols in order to continue playing. As the SEC teams dealt with the outbreaks and Saban dealt with the coronavirus on his own, only one team really felt safe: Alabama, thanks to Smith, Harris, Jones and everyone else. Yes, there were a few close calls along the way. But this is a team that failed to score 40 or more points only twice and had three players who finished in the top 5 for Heisman – and you could make a very real case today, they had to finish 1-2-3.
This doesn’t just happen by accident, of course. Saban recruits the best players and then develops the best players. But this type of insulting performance was also not predestined. Saban saw the changing landscape in college football toward wide-ranging willful crimes and moved with it – rediscovering the Red Tide in an unstoppable offensive force. Think of the first two times he won the National Championships in Alabama: The Tide scored a total of 58 points – just six more than they were on Monday night.
Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sargsyan has once again called it a masterpiece. Knowing well that Smith would be involved in every game, he put Smith in new and different formations to give him the ball. But most of the time, Smith simply lagged behind Ohio’s defenders and outdid them. When the first half ended, Smith had 12 catches for 215 yards and three touchdowns, broke three SEC career records, set a BCS / CFP championship record, tied another and set a school cup record.
“He does a really good job of calling a game,” Saban told Sarkisian. “He knows what the other team is doing, he knows how to attack him, he knows where to put the players to put them in position so he can do these games against what the other team is doing. He just did a fantastic job for a year. “
Jones, meanwhile, threw for 464 yards – breaking Joe Barrow’s BCS / CFP record and tying Brow’s touchdown record to five.
A year after college football experts declared LSU and Burrow the greatest crime of all time, Alabama announced its demand for the crown. None of this should be shocking: Alabama missed the playoffs a year ago and watched the Tiger Division rival roll in a similar way. Did anyone think Saban would just handle this?
Jones, who struggled with a bruised leg for a good second-half piece and still delivered one perfectly placed pass after another, went a step further than declaring Alabama to be the biggest offense.
“I think we’re the best team to ever play,” Jones said. “There is no team that will ever play on the SEC schedule again. But at the same time we are so happy to win this game and put the icing on the cake. There was not much pressure; we just wanted to go out there and play the game we all play from 5 years of age. “
Despite all the unknowns about how this season will develop, the Red Tide is devoted to each other.
“We had a mission,” Smith said. “Everyone wanted to do things the right way. We just all came to work every day and just got to work. We got the result we wanted.”
And in the end, the result we can all see is coming.