We begin this inaugural College Football Playoff, which makes New Year’s Day relevant for the first time since Bill Clinton was chasing Monica around the White House (1997), with some classic quotes from the giants of the game who never had the opportunity to compete in a playoff format.
We’ll begin with John McKay from USC:
“We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking.”
“Intensity is a lot of guys that run fast.”
“Emotion is highly overrated. My wife Corky is emotional as hell, but can’t play football worth a damn.”
After USC lost 51-0 to Notre Dame, this was McKay’s post-game message to his team: “All of those who need to take showers; take them.”
Ara Parseghian – Notre Dame: “Whether you like it or not, ….. you’re a national figure after five games at Notre Dame.”
Knute Rockne – Notre Dame: “I’ve found prayers work better when you have large players.” “It isn’t necessary to see a good tackle, you can hear it.”
Darrell Royal – Texas: “Trends are bunk. Angry people win football games.”
Paul Dietzel – LSU: “You learn more character on the two yard line than anywhere else in life.”
Bob Devaney – Nebraska: “I don’t want to win enough to be placed on NCAA probation, I just want to win enough to warrant an investigation.”
Alex Karras – who wasn’t a coach, but we felt this quote was worthy: “I never graduated from Iowa, but I was only there for two terms, Truman’s and Eisenhower’s.”
Finally, the Bear, Paul “Bear” Bryant the winner of six national championships: “I make my practices real hard, because if a player is a quitter, I want him to quit in practice, not in a game.”
Now to the final four;
No.1 Alabama vs. No.5 Ohio State – Sugar Bowl (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.) The chase is on.
St. Nick, the “Captain Spaulding” of Groucho’s favorite team, is attempting to climb one rung closer (5) to Alabama’s “Hound’s-tooth” icon Paul “Bear” Bryant, who lords over college football landscape with a resume that includes six national titles.
These Sons of Bart Starr, who have outscored its opponents by a better than 2-1 margin (482-216) are directed by its senior “occasion-rising” QB Blake Sims (26 TDs -7 INTs), who operates as the country’s seventh most efficient passer.
The rocket-launcher has the luxury of targeting one of the best, in Heisman finalist Amari Cooper (1656 yds-14 TDs), who is second in both yards (127), and receptions (8.8), per contest.
(On Sunday’s next year, he will be an impact player coming to a stadium near you.)
The Tide’s attack, which has better balance than Nadia Comaneci, motors behind a pair of thoroughbreds; T.J. Yeldon, and Derrick Henry, who road-grade with John Deere high-end efficiency, combining for 1827 yards, and 20 touchdowns.
The nation’s fourth stingiest (16) D, anchored by its All-America pairing; safety Landon Collins, backer Trey Depriest, and fellow backer Reggie Ragland, inhales runners, but shows some vulnerability defending the pass, especially the deep ball, which is a Ohio State specialty.
This is arguably the best coaching performance of Urban Meyer’s Hall of Fame career.
The Sons of “Hopalong” Cassady, the nation’s fourth highest scoring (45) eleven, who have scored over 40 points in 9 of its 13 games, are now directed by its Escalade-sized (6-5, 250) third-string QB Cardale Jones, who will be making just the second start of his college career, having thrown a grandiose total of 35 passes.
The talented newbie “gran-hombre” is assisted by a bell-cow tailback Ezekiel Elliott, who has galloped for over 1400 yards and 12 touchdowns.
With apologies to Billy Paul, when Mr. Jones has his “thing going on,” he has a pair of game breaking targets; Michael Thomas (8TDs), and his mercury-infused high-school pal Devin Smith (11 TDs-26 yards a grab), who has better wheels than Goodyear.
The Bucks D, anchored by its All-America end Joey Bosa (20 tfls-13.5 sacks), and assisted by fellow backers Darron Lee, and Joshua Perry, attacks with the ferocity of Whoopi Goldberg toward a republican, or Pope Francis toward the Vatican Curia.
We think the Tide has too much talent and speed for the Boys from Columbus, and early Friday morning, Tuscaloosa’s secular saint will be one win away from moving up the “Bear ladder.”
No.3 Oregon vs. No.2 Florida State – Rose Bowl (ESPN, 5 p.m.) In the spirit of Rod Serling, who once said, “Imagination… its limits are only those of the mind itself.”
That is the approach that the Sons of Dan Fouts, aka the Ducks of Oregon (who are a significant 9 pt. favorite) will be employing, intent on stamping the Seminoles from Tallahassee with its first blemish in over two years. (FSU last lost on November 24, 2012 to be exact).
The nation’s third highest scoring (46) squad is directed by its “pluperfect” flawless QB, Marcus Mariota (38 TDs-2 INTs – 14 rushing), who in addition to leading the country in passing efficiency, is the newly minted Heisman Trophy winner, and overall, has had a better year than Taylor Swift.
The “Quiet Hawaiian” is an eye-popping 35-4 as a starter, and has been the Ducks second leading rusher for three consecutive seasons.
The Eugene dart-thrower is assisted by a blue-ribbon freshman, tailback Royce Freeman (1299 yds.-16 TDs), and when “Mr. H” takes to the Oregon skies, wideout Byron Marshall, and Devon Allen are field stretching targets.
Unfortunately, as the Phil Knight University faithful are well aware, the D, especially with the loss of its All-America corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, is vulnerable to the pass, which is not a good recipe against Florida State.
FSU’s Heisman QB; Jameis “Crablegs” Winston has been cleared of any university code-of-conduct violations.
It is reminiscent of the scene from the classic movie “Casablanca” in which Captain Renault, played by Claude Rains, is ordered by the Nazi major to shut down Rick’s Café.
When Humphrey Bogart, who plays the part of Rick, inquires as to why, Rains responds; “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” (As the croupier hands Renault his winnings.)
The Sons of Bobby Bowden, in its circle-the-wagons mentality have managed to shut out the noise, and continue to find ways to carve out a W. (A pal of mine, refers to FSU as “The Cockroaches” because you can’t kill them off.)
Outside of the confines of Tallahassee, “Crablegs” (24 TDs-17 INTs), who has yet to taste the bile of defeat in his college career, remains the most disliked person this side of Bernie Madoff, Lance Armstrong, or any member of Congress.
But beware, the once moribund Florida State offense has been infused by the emergence of t-freshman tailback Dalvin Cook, (issues with the law) who has more speed than a meth-lab in Appalachia.
And when “Captain Comeback” goes aerial, wideout Rashard Greene, and tight end Nick O’Leary have been quality, season-long, “bail-me-out” targets.
The Seminoles D, featuring backers Reggie Northrup, Terrance Smith, and end Mario Edwards, won’t conjure up any images of the days of “bump and run” domination, but is capable of making the big fortuitous stop, hence its undefeated standing.
In addition to being the Rose Bowl, which is always the best on the menu of bowls, this game holds great intrigue.
If FSU falls behind early, which has been its pattern, can it mount a charge against such a high powered high flying offense as Oregon. Doubtful.
And as much as America wants to see the Seminoles fall, we’ll stay with the streak. To paraphrase Finley Peter Dunne’s “Mr. Dooley; “Twenty-nine in a row ain’t beanbag.”
That’s it from cyber space. Peace, and a healthy new year. Pk.