In Tampa, Florida the sound of waves from the Gulf of Mexico rolling into the shore is to be expected, something that happens daily, but if you listen closely, you can hear a different tide rolling today in the sunshine state, the University of Alabama’s football team, the Crimson Tide. They are undefeated on the year, winning big games against USC, Florida, LSU, and last week against Washington, a team whose fanbase was so confident in their ability, the words “we want Bama” were recited like a mantra as the season wound to a close and the playoffs approached. In my experience, most wishes don’t come true, but the Washington fans got what they wished for, and it left them looking like incompetent fools. Alabama rolled over them and finished with a seventeen point victory, and while that was a fun game for Crimson Tide fans everywhere, we knew that an even tougher test lay ahead, the college football championship.
Tonight’s championship game is a rematch of last year’s final, Alabama against Clemson, a high scoring game in which the Crimson Tide held on to win by five points, a game that looms large in my mind today. Alabama has a different quarterback this year, a freshman, whose passing accuracy doesn’t inspire much confidence, our Heisman trophy winning running back is gone, some of our key defenders are hurt, and I’m not nearly as confident as I was on this day a year ago. Clemson was good, obviously, but I never doubted Alabama’s ability to win the game, but with the new year and all the changes I have a knot in my stomach thinking about the game tonight. I’m excited, sure, but I can’t pretend that I’m not worried about the huge change made to the coaching staff last week. Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin, left the team after last week’s win to begin his new job as the head coach at Florida Atlantic, a move that may or may not be disastrous for the Tide. His replacement, Steve Sarkisian has been around the team most of the year and theoretically knows the ins and outs of the offense, but nobody wants a new coach taking the reigns of the very important offensive coordinator position for the first time in the biggest game of the college football season.
Now we’ve arrived at the paragraph where I would confidently pick the winner of the game, and be right about sixty-five percent of the time, but today I’m not so confident. I’ll pick Alabama to win in a close, highly entertaining game, the deciding factor being the Tide’s defensive ability to somewhat stifle the offensive superpower that is Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers. Despite the high scoring championship last year, I think this one will be quite the opposite, a defensive showcase, with both offenses just trying to sustain drives. I hope I’m wrong and that Jalen Hurts comes out looking like Michael Vick, tormenting the defense with both his legs and his arm, but the likelihood of that happening is about as good as Lane Kiffin winning a national championship at his new gig. Regardless of the outcome, if you listen carefully, you’ll hear my voice screaming over the sound of the crashing waves in Tampa, roll tide roll!