By Sean Jones, Chattanooga, TN–As we all know, this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Oh, you thought I meant because of Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the other holidays?
Holidays are cool and everything but college football makes this the most wonderful time of the year. The regular season is over and the postseason is about to begin. Unless you are a Tennessee fan, in which case the highlight of your off season is finding a new coach whose name is hopefully John Gruden.
But what if they somehow managed to lure him to Knoxville?
I am not a Tennessee fan but I am a fan of college football, and college football is better when certain teams, like Tennessee, are playing well. Notre Dame falls into the same category.
The college football world is a better place when the Fighting Irish are a good team. The history of the program and the passion of the fan base makes everything more interesting.
Did you catch what I said there? It makes everything more interesting. There are so many interesting storylines throughout this college football season, from Notre Dame to Johnny Football to Ohio State. There are so many “what ifs”
Notre Dame will head to Miami in January to play in the BCS National Championship. They are one of two undefeated teams left in the country and they are definitely the more talked about of the two.
Let’s talk about Ohio State. I am fairly certain that nobody saw Urban Meyer leading the Buckeyes to an undefeated season this year. That spells National Championship birth in any year other than 2012.
Unfortunately for Urban, his team is under NCAA probation and is banned from competing in a bowl game this season.
But what if they weren’t serving the bowl ban?
That puts the Buckeyes in Miami on Jan. 7 to take on the Irish who have a perfect 12-0 record of their own.
But what if Notre Dame wasn’t Notre Dame?
What if Navy or Army or BYU had gone undefeated? Do any of those teams get into the championship with a 12-0 record while being an independent team?
I say no. I think the weight of the gold helmets, Touchdown Jesus and the history of Notre Dame put them in the number one spot. They beat three ranked teams in Michigan, Oklahoma and Stanford but the rest of their schedule is average at best. And I would not call Michigan tough this season.
Nonetheless, they are in the title game and have a chance to prove themselves against the powerhouse that is the SEC.
Notre Dame will be ready, I’m sure, and led by stud linebacker and Heisman candidate Mantei Te’o. Te’o’s story is absolutely incredible. He lost his grandmother and his girlfriend within hours of each other and he played the same week. It’s a great story and it says a lot about his character. He is a great player and he deserves to be in discussions of the best defensive players in the country.
But what if he didn’t have that incredible story?
I do not think he is even in the discussion if he did not go through that. That makes me sound insensitive towards his situation but honestly, I feel like his story is getting more attention than his play. The award goes to the best player in the country.
I do not think that Te’o is the best player in the country. That award goes to Johnny Maziel, aka Johnny Football, of the Texas A&M Aggies. Te’o is just this year’s Tyrann Mathieu. He is the best player on the No. 1 team. But that does not get you a Heisman. It is hard to say that he is even the best defensive player in the country. Jadavean Clowney would be in the same position if South Carolina was ranked first.
That top ranking has too much of an impact on who wins the Heisman. It should go to the best player in the country, which right now is Johnny Football.
Speaking of Johnny Football, what if Johnny Football had stayed firm in his commitment to Oregon coming out of high school?
That is scary. Could you imagine him in the fast-paced offense? That means that Kenyon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas and Manziel would be on the same offense. Whoa. He accounted for over 4,000 yards at A&M, who knows how many he would have had at Oregon this season. He might have earned the Heisman at either school.
Those are just a few of the “what if’s” and there are a hundred more that I could come up with.
My point is, college football is really awesome. One player, one team or one game can change the entire outlook of a season. That is not necessarily the case in professional football or college basketball. There are so many games that losing one game is not really a huge deal.
But there is such little room for error in college football. It is full of passion. It is full of “what if’s.” I think that is what people love about college football.
Things can change in a matter of seconds. A team can go from National Championship contender, to nothing in a mere two weeks, like USC did. The Heisman front runner can fade away in one game, in one quarter or after one decision.
Looking at the “what if’s” is fun but watching the season unfold is just as good. I cannot wait to see how Notre Dame stacks up against an SEC opponent. I cannot wait to see how the SEC opponent handles the Notre Dame front seven.
Either way the bowls, the championship and the Heisman make this the best time of the year.
I am already giddy in anticipation of the college bowl season. I probably will not be this excited again.
At least until the Super Bowl.