It’s the National Championship game, down by three with six seconds left on the clock. What do you do? If you’re Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, the answer is simple: “Win a National Championship.”
Having an identical rematch of last year’s college football National Championship seemed anti-climactic and dull, but the game was a treat from start to finish. Though many spectators did not have a dog in the fight, it was clear that most fans outside of the state of Alabama were rooting for the boys in orange.
Most casual sports fans can typically come to a general consensus and hate on the monopoly of each sport. The majority of fans will tell you they hate the Yankees, the Lakers and the Patriots. What about Alabama football?
Since his arrival at Tuscaloosa in 2007, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has won four national championships, his most recent coming from last season. This is why most college football fans that are not fond of the Crimson Tide will tell you they were cheering for Clemson to win the National Championship on Jan. 9.
Clemson’s win signified a sign of hope. Hope for players, coaches, but most importantly, fans. By defeating a heavily favored Alabama team, Clemson proved that even the best will fall at some point. According to ESPN, Jeff Scott, Clemson’s offensive coordinator, said that his team did not fear the almighty favored Alabama squad.
“Our confidence level, we had a lot of respect for Alabama because they’re a very talented team, but there was zero fear among our guys,” Scott said. “That’s one thing it takes to beat a team like Alabama; you can’t be afraid of them.”
The Tigers showed that the underdog can win and take down the giant; the giant being Nick Saban of course. And if Nick Saban can be taken down, that implies that perhaps anyone can win the big one, not just the expected team. According to ABC News, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that the team showed great determination in defeating Alabama.
“Clemson showed their heart and humility throughout the entire season,” Haley said. “And in an unforgettable national championship victory, they reminded us that with faith and hard work, anything is possible.”
Watson’s game-winning drive sparked shades of Vince Young’s callous effort late in the fourth quarter of the 2006 National Championship against USC, and it earned him the offensive MVP. His 420 yards and three touchdowns aided the Tigers to 35 points, including his third touchdown in the final seconds of play. Clemson’s senior linebacker Ben Boulware took home the defensive MVP trophy with his six tackles, two of which came from behind the line of scrimmage.
Among the MVP winners, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney deserves all the credit he has earned for bringing home the National Championship trophy to Clemson. Swinney has improved each year at Clemson since his seven wins in his interim year in 2008, all the way to winning the National Championship last week. According to ESPN, Jay Barker, a former teammate of Swinney, said that the head coach is a representation of his team.
“He’s always been the underdog,” Barker said. “He has had to fight for everything and has never been given anything. That’s what has made him so successful.”
Indeed, Clemson winning the National Championship was what was best for college football. For the players, coaches and the fans, it gives each person a new brand of hope entering next year’s season.
Even when you’re goliath, you get knocked down and tip your cap to the other team, and that’s exactly what Saban did in his post-game press conference after his team’s loss.
“So I have a lot of respect for [Swinney] as a person,” Saban said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a coach. He has a really good team, and I have a lot of respect for their team.”