John Clay

Benched at halftime, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts was the class act of title game

The pilot of the aircraft carrying the Alabama team home after winning the national championship game gave a thumbs up to fans at the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Regional Airport on Tuesday. Alabama defeated Georgia 26-23 in overtime in the College Football Playoff title game on Monday.
The pilot of the aircraft carrying the Alabama team home after winning the national championship game gave a thumbs up to fans at the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Regional Airport on Tuesday. Alabama defeated Georgia 26-23 in overtime in the College Football Playoff title game on Monday. Associated Press

Random notes:

▪  One College Football Playoff hero was the quarterback who was benched at halftime on Monday night. Alabama’s Jalen Hurts set an example by offering help to replacement Tua Tagovailoa and being all smiles after the 26-23 overtime win.

▪  Georgia isn’t going anywhere. The way recruiting is going in Athens, talk around the league says Kirby Smart is building a monster between the hedges. Not only could we see an Alabama-Georgia 2018 SEC title game, we could see a CFP finals rematch, as well.

▪  In case you were wondering, Kentucky isn’t scheduled to play Alabama in football again until 2023 in Lexington. Nick Saban will be 72 years old by then. He will either be retired or trying to win his 12th national championship. I wouldn’t bet against the latter.

▪  Josh Allen’s return is obviously huge for Kentucky football in 2018. The defensive end/outside linebacker will benefit from an added year of maturity and conditioning. A standout senior season would put him in prime position for next year’s NFL Draft. Having safety Mike Edwards return for his senior season will help the defense, as well.

▪  Don’t blame UK for bringing in junior-college quarterback Terry Wilson. Don’t blame now former UK quarterback Drew Barker for leaving the program as a graduate transfer. Now the one to watch is redshirt sophomore Gunnar Hoak.

▪  His first year in Columbus, former Jessamine County Colts star Chris Holtmann has Ohio State 4-0 in the Big Ten. After three seasons as Butler’s head coach, Holtmann steered the Buckeyes to an 80-64 win over then No. 1-ranked Michigan State on Sunday.

▪  It could easily lose Wednesday night at Missouri, but Georgia could be the SEC basketball sleeper. Mark Fox has a star in Yante Maten, an inside presence with Derek Ogbeide, a promising freshman in Rayshaun Hammonds and plenty of veterans.

▪  Were I in Bengals owner Mike Brown’s shoes, I would not have re-signed head coach Marvin Lewis. That said, I don’t consider it a major mistake and I give Brown credit for being his own man. He wanted continuity. We’ll see how continuity plays out.

▪  Interesting contrast between Reds and Bengals. When Reds Manager Dusty Baker fell out of fan favor after losing playoff series, owner Bob Castellini let Baker walk rather than risk a fan revolt. Under similar circumstances, Brown took the opposite approach.

▪  My NFL divisional playoff picks: Patriots over Titans and Steelers over Jaguars in AFC. Falcons over Eagles and Vikings over Saints in NFC. Picking Pittsburgh, but Jacksonville’s defense is tough enough to surprise the Steelers.

▪  Could Randall Cobb’s days in Green Bay be numbered? The Packers signed Davante Adams to a multi-year extension, meaning that Adams, Cobb and Jordy Nelson will all make over $10 million next season. Nelson or Cobb might have to go.

▪  Upset over criticism he received by turning his back completely to a player seeking an explanation, college basketball official Ted Valentine says he is thinking about retirement. Yeah, right. “TV Teddy” loves the attention.

▪  Agree with ESPN’s Bill Polian, the former NFL general manager, who says the problem with replay is that they’re trying to get every official’s call right, which upsets the flow of the game. You can’t get every call right. Bad calls are part of the game.

▪  In New Orleans for UK-UCLA, I followed Greg Oden in the media meal line. The 7-foot center led Ohio State to the NCAA title game before knee injuries ended his career. Now almost 30 and on the OSU staff, he joked about my bad luck. “I might eat everything here,” he said.

▪  Circling back around to the College Football Playoff, I loved Chris Fowler as the host of ESPN’s “College GameDay.” As the network’s lead college football play-by-play announcer, however, not so much. It’s a tough transition.

College football champions in BCS/CFP era

Year

Champion

Runner-up

Method

Coach

1998

Tennessee

Florida State

BCS

Phil Fulmer

1999

Florida State

Virginia Tech

BCS

Bobby Bowden

2000

Oklahoma

Florida State

BCS

Bob Stoops

2001

Miami

Nebraska

BCS

Larry Coker

2002

Ohio State

Miami

BCS

Jim Tressel

2003

LSU

Oklahoma

BCS

Nick Saban

2004

USC

Oklahoma

BCS

Pete Carroll

2005

Texas

USC

BCS

Mack Brown

2006

Florida

Ohio State

BCS

Urban Meyer

2007

LSU

Ohio State

BCS

Les Miles

2008

Florida

Oklahoma

BCS

Urban Meyer

2009

Alabama

Texas

BCS

Nick Saban

2010

Auburn

Oregon

BCS

Gene Chizik

2011

Alabama

LSU

BCS

Nick Saban

2012

Alabama

Notre Dame

BCS

Nick Saban

2013

Florida State

Auburn

BCS

Jimbo Fisher

2014

Ohio State

Oregon

CFP

Urban Meyer

2015

Alabama

Clemson

CFP

Nick Saban

2016

Clemson

Alabama

CFP

Dabo Swinney

2017

Alabama

Georgia

CFP

Nick Saban

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