It was an anti-climactic ending to what was an otherwise fairly quiet race for the national championship. If we trace it back to early in the season, Oklahoma lost quickly. USC broke their pattern of an isolated tank job against Pac-10 teams by committing several tank jobs. That narrowed it down to Texas, Florida and Alabama by the end of September and unless you were a fan of one of those three, there was little reason to doubt anyone else would jump into the picture. Last night's game took on a surreal feel to it quickly when Colt McCoy was knocked out on his team's first possession and freshman Garrett Gilbert was thurst into the spotlight.
Further adding to the surreal nature of the game was the absolutely bizarre decision-making on the sidelines. Mack Brown's call of a shovel pass right before halftime with his team on the ropes and far from
scoring position made zero sense and when the shovel was poorly executed, it ended in the hands of a 'Bama defensive lineman taking it to the house. The fact this was the difference in the game got Nick Saban off the hook for an even dumber decision--a fake punt on 4th-and-23 from his own 10 on the first possession of the game. Maybe there's something in the Pasadena air that causes brain-lock. Last time was 2005 when Reggie Bush was hurling an ill-advised lateral that cost his team a touchdown and Pete Carroll inexplicably going for it on fourth down late in the game with a lead and setting up Vince Young's heroics.
The season started with Sam Bradford going down with a shoulder injury during a loss to BYU and later to Texas. It ends with a similar injury to McCoy. I'll say the same thing here that I said in this space after the Oklahoma-BYU game. There has to be a middle ground where we can acknowledge one team's victory without denying the
obvious--that a big injury was a huge, even deciding factor. Injuries are a part of the sport and always will be. Alabama has nothing to apologize for. They ran the gauntlet, buried Florida and hung on last night. If an injury gave them one final boost, so be it. I'm sure Tide fans can think of several games a bad break has cost them over the year. But let's not pretend this game really told us anything about who was better than who if they were both at even strength.