Yesterday's epic National Championship Game ended about as good as any college game could. It was a fantastic game, full of dueling incredible storylines, the birth of a legend, the final piece of a long 5-year quest at Clemson, and either a momentary lapse, or the beginning of the end, of the sports great modern dynasty. That game had everything. Of course, if not for all the ills of college football, it would have been so much worse.
Alabama's offense consisted of waiting around for a 40+ yard play to occur. They had such variance in their offense. Either a run for 10+, or a deep bomb completed, or incomplete passes sprayed along the field coupled with runs for nothing. Clemson had a rhythm, but also wasted precious time running east to west and ridiculous read option plays against a team whose defense figured that stuff our three national championship games ago.
The game ended as fantastically as it can, with a game-winning TD with one second left. Of course, if not for some puzzling at best, awful at worst, clock management by Dabo Swinney and Clemson on that last drive, it would have been far less dramatic. College Football is not perfect. As a hardcore NFL fan, the quality of play alternates between inspired and awful, with way more falling on the awful side - particularly on offense. Of course, this game a day after one of the most listless NFL playoff weekends in recent memory, with four games all decided by 13+ points, and few dramatic moments at all. Sure, all eight teams in terms of quality were far superior (including the Connor Cook led Raiders), but after seeing what Alabama and Clemson put on display, maybe imperfect isn't that bad.
I had a quick group chat conversation with a couple friends on whether that was a better title game than the 2006 Rose Bowl between Texas and USC, memorably won late by Texas. That game had a few similarities, including the overall theme of an upstart team led by a dual threat QB coming back from behind all game to beat a team looking for a dynasty. I argued yes. Here the game was closer, featured multiple lead changes on bananas play, and had the final TD scored even later. My friend who is the most hardcore college football fan in my group argued no, mostly centering around the quality of play - and more directly, quality of players in that game. I get that argument (even in a game where the perceived talent didn't translate to the NFL), but maybe we can overlook that for the sheer audacity of a great college game.
Weirdly, we had a Title Game in college rather recently that could match this one for drama, as we are less than a year removed from Villanova's incredible walk-off win over North Carolina with a last second buzzer beater. That game was incredibly well played. In quality of play, that more closely resembled NBA Basketball than this game resembled NFL football. But that doesn't necessarily mean it was better. In basketball in many ways, the flaws are more pronounced. The mindlessness of most college basketball offenses are so glaring, so jarring, it is hard to ever look past. College can get closer to the real product, and when you couple that with the drama of Clemson ending an all-time run by Alabama, you get something close to perfect despite its imperfections.