We begin this week with a trumpet player on marching band, a wager involving a single burrito, and an invitation to try-out for a spot on a big-time college football team.
Austin Brizee Jr. plays trumpet on “The Ohio State Marching Band,” one of the grandest in the land.
And after watching games from the sidelines for three years, this former high school soccer, golf, and baseball player, who had never kicked a field goal, decided to accept his friend’s wager of a Chipotle burrito, on the premise that he could boot, as he proclaimed, one from 55-yards away.
The two of them, along with several friends, went to the Buckeyes indoor practice facility to “kick” the tires and find out if he could make good on his boast.
“I kept going back, and kept on going back, and finally hit the 55-yarder. My friend happened to capture it on film, and tweeted it from the band’s twitter account to the Ohio State football team, asking; “If they could use one more kicker.”
It caught the eyeball of Assistant Director of Player Personnel Eron Hodges who replied, “Not today. But he definitely has a tryout invitation. Have him get in touch with me,” tweeted Hodges.
And if this Cinderella story doesn’t turn into a pumpkin, Brizee, who is still waiting to collect on his burrito, will most likely have to hand in his trumpet for a helmet.
On this championship Monday, let’s see which team answers the bugler’s call, and charges to victory, and which marches off the field heavy headed feeling like a soggy burrito.
No.1 Alabama vs No.2 Clemson (ESPN, 8 p.m. – Monday, January 9th – National Championship) This championship rematch has the same panache and anticipation as: “The Godfather: Part II” or “The Thrilla in Manila.”
And if anyone can derail the “Orient Express” of college football, aka the “Sons of Joe Namath,” it’s the Tigers of Clemson.
We’ll begin with “Groucho’s Boys” winners of 26 in-a-row, who stand on the cusp of its fifth national championship in eight years, a dynastic run of such eye-popping perfection, it will, if they can pull it off, stand the test of time.
The conductor of this “Title Town” symphony, which has won 16-in a row against ranked teams, is maestro Nicholas Lou Saban Jr., aka Nick Saban, or simply St. Nick, who during his ten year residency directing this gridiron orchestra, has authored an awe-inspiring score of: 119-18. [Note: if the Tuscaloosan tutor wins his sixth title, he owns one from his tenure at LSU, he will equal the once thought to be unassailable record of the Tide’s other secular saint, “The Bear of Bryant.”
And just like Joe Frazier’s left-hook, the Tide’s calling card is a D dotted with All-Americas, and bursting with a roster of future Sunday performers that is harder to penetrate than Donald Trump’s tax-returns, or the inner circle of Syrian President Bashar “The Butcher” al-Assad.
In fact, the only entity with better numbers is; Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.
Alabama’s eleven angry men
These turbo-charged, with apologies to Winston Churchill, “Iron Curtain” charter members, featuring the All-America trio; tackle Jonathan Allen (15 tfls-9.5 sacks), backer Reuben Foster (12 tfls-4 sacks), and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, ranks first overall, are the stingiest (11 pts a game) in the nation, and surrender rushing yards (62-a game) about as often as the “new” world’s most interesting man is actually interesting. (Bring Johnathan Goldsmith back from Mars; “… Stay thirsty my friends.”)
And as an added caveat; these “Sons of Lee Roy Jordan” have scored 11 TDs, while allowing a total of fifteen, as Alabama has outscored its opponents by the combined aggregate: 551-160.
The offense is directed by its peppermint-cool freshman wunderkind, QB Jalen Hurts (22 TDs -9 Ints – 64% 891 yds rushing – 12 TDs), who stresses about as often as Donald Trump in front of a microphone.
But more importantly, these “Sons of Johnny Musso” have unearthed a late season treasure in its 6-foot-2, 238 pound, 18-wheeler sophomore tailback Bo Scarbrough, who slices through a defense with the deft of a Russian strafing run on an Aleppo MASH Unit.
And when the “kid” goes aerial, wideouts Calvin Ridley, Ardarius Stewart, and All-America tight end O.J. Howard provide Linus-blanket comfort, having combined for: 160 catches and 17 TDs
[Note: Alabama’s o-coordinator Lane Kiffin, the newly minted head man at FAU, who has held the title in Tuscaloosa quite successfully for the past three years, is out, and former Washington, and USC head coach, Steve Sarkisian has been given the controls. We’ll see how big of a distraction, if any, this is. But it is a very un-Saban-like.]
Clemson has long since shed its image of the; “Little engine that could.”
And peppered with a roster that has 17-starters who played in last year’s national championship, the Tigers, whose last national title occurred when Nancy Reagan was purchasing White House china (1981) have more than a puncher’s chance against the vaunted defending champs.
Dabo’s Boys have won 30 of its last 32, and are a resounding 11-5 against top-10 teams under the Swinney’s guidance.
The chief engineer, who fires the coal of that “Death Valley” locomotive, is its Heisman-runner-up, QB Deshaun Watson (38 TDs-17 Ints-67%-8 rushing), who is an unimpeachable 31-3 as the starter for the “Sons of Strom Thurmond,” the former South Carolina US Senator, Class ‘23, who as a matter of note, participated as a D-Day glider pilot at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
The Houdini protégé, with the Fred Astaire moves, is assisted by his reliable touchdown making tailback Wayne Gallman (16 TDs, 5 yds. a carry), and a foursome of wideouts, led by one of the nation’s premier chain movers, jet-fueled Mike Williams, (90-catches for over 1200 yards, and 10 TDs), who along with tight end Jordan Leggett (7 TDs), and fellow receivers Deon Cain, and Artavis Scott have combined for: 235 receptions and 31 TDs. (If Clemson is going to win Watson and Williams must hook up often.)
But the true stalwarts of this Death Valley renaissance is the nation’s eighth stingiest (17) D, who finished third in both tackles-for-losses, and sacks, and features All-America tackle Carlos Watkins (10.5 tfls-8.5 sacks), and backers Kendall Joseph (10 tfls-3.5 sacks), and Ben (9 tfls-3.5 sacks) Boulware.
These eleven angry men run faster than Cale Yarborough, and hit harder than a right by Amanda Nunes to the jaw of Ronda Rousey, and will be the key ingredient if Clemson is to whip up a game winning stew.
This is a game of great intrigue. It simply comes down to: so goes Watson so goes Clemson.
And we don’t think he’ll be able to consistently tunnel through that impregnable wall known as the Alabama defense, as St. Nick, in a taut well-played game, gets his “Bear” equaling sixth national title.
This is the last game of the year from cyber-space. We’ll be back, God-willing, in September. Until then good-health, Peace, and listen to the music. Pk.