Scooter Hobbs column: Georgia breaks Bama fatigue

Published 11:01 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

So that’s how it’s done, huh?

Don’t tell me that when Alabama got the, shall we say, “convenient” fumble call in Monday’s College Football Playoff championship game, it didn’t look to be suspiciously right on schedule for devout Southeastern Conference followers.

Never mind that there were no SEC officials to blame this time. The ACC was on this case, and that conference’s headquarters are not located in Birmingham.

But the zebras seemed to have gotten the memo.

Everybody had seen this movie before and knew the ending. A great game up to that point, the assumption already was that no matter how much Alabama might tease America as Georgia hung around, this was the tipping point.

The play looked inconsequential. Your basic incomplete pass from Georgia’s Stetson Bennett — who everybody knew should have been benched by then — as he was hit under a heavy rush.

But then … what are they reviewing anyway?

Physics was beneath my educational experience, but I’m still trying to figure out how a hand can be going forward and the ball ends 6-7 yards downfield and yet, after further review, be determined that it came out of that hand backwards and undeflected.

But it was the most Bama thing ever. A Tide defender accidentally and unknowingly recovered it as an afterthought during a leisurely stroll to the sideline, requiring more video review to determine that his foot, through no fault of his own, was a silly millimeter in bounds so it came out in the wash as — wait for it — Bama ball, point-blank range of the Georgia goal line.

The Tide scored, of course, and, OK, here comes the inevitable Tidal Wave that always follows such Bama good fortune.

Right?

No. Georgia refused to pout. The Dawgs, bless their hearts, flipped the all-too familiar script. Head coach Kirby Smart decided again not to change quarterbacks as everyone was pleading for him to do and turned Bennett into a national hero while dominating the game from that point through the fourth quarter for a 33-18 national championship victory over Alabama.

Let the confetti fly.

America needed it.

The CFP may have given us nothing more than another all-SEC championship game, but at least it gave us a different champion.

Some other thoughts on a great game, even if the TV ratings aren’t likely to reflect it:

Speaking of confetti, it doesn’t just happen. Has to be set up in advance before the winner is known. So I wonder if they made allowances for the slight difference in hue between Bama’s crimson and Georgia’s red. Or if they scrimped and had one generic red they were going to pass off. Yes, you have to stay up late to ponder such questions.

For all the smug fun the rest of college football had with the SEC’s travails in the bowl season, the conference is working on another three-game national championship streak. With three teams. Also, 12 of the last 16 with five teams.

Even as social media exploded with yawns during the 9-6 field-goal fest in the first half, I enjoyed the game better when every first down seemed like a monumental game-changer. I hope the naysayers managed to stay awake for the second half just to amuse themselves.

I still don’t know why Smart didn’t ever change quarterbacks.

Even Nick Saban found that winning national championship rematches are tough. Afterwards he tried to put a happy face on things by saying that, well anyway, nobody would ever be able to take away his team’s SEC championship in the original game with the Dawgs. Good luck with that one, coach. If I recall, LSU tried a similar tactic after the 2011 season when it lost the national championship rematch to him. But LSU fans grumbled and even semi-booed at the Tigers’ following spring game when the team was introduced, perhaps a little too over-enthusiastically, as the SEC CHAMPIONS!!!! Tide fans are even more demanding.

Some were surprised to see Saban smiling and jovial during his postgame chitchat with Smart. Again, an LSU reference. His first year at Alabama, 2007, his Tide was not yet what we know today and sorely overmatched in Bryant-Denny Stadium against LSU’s eventual national championship team. Yet LSU played a mistake-filled, near comical game, and the Tide had every chance to win it. LSU pulled it out at the end due to some glaring Alabama miscues. I decided to attend Saban’s postgame news conference instead of deciphering Les Miles’ pig Latin. To my surprise he seemed pleasant as could be, catching up with some Louisiana media and happy for the Tigers, having recruited most of the key cogs.

Stetson Bennett is a great story, but he could still take cigar-twirling lessons from Joe Burrow.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com