Locker Room: Maybe should have been Georgia

     I’ve always felt it takes a good defense to win a championship. Oklahoma absolutely does not have one. The Sooners are the 4th seed in the upcoming College Football Playoff. What does Alabama have to do to win the semi-final? I think make OU punt once each half should get it done. I doubt the Tide will have to punt the entire game. Take away two fumbles and a stupid blocking penalty and the Sooners wouldn’t have beaten West Virginia. Their defense certainly never stopped the Mountaineers. Clemson will be a solid favorite over Notre Dame in the other semi.
    I know it would have caused problems, but likely, even though it lost to Alabama last week, Georgia is still the fourth best team in the country in this opinion, but the problem is the pool isn’t very deep. I’m also sure the fact that Georgia and its coach Kirby Smart has cracked under pressure the last two years against Alabama had something to do with it too.
     Last year the Bulldogs led virtually the entire game. Was ahead in overtime and Alabama was third and Sylvatus and in a bad spot. A pass went up and shockingly behind the Georgia secondary wide open in the end zone was a Tide receiver. What did Georgia think the Tide was going to do? This year with a 14-point third quarter lead the ‘Dogs missed a chip shot field goal for a three score lead. Then with the game tied Smart tries to pull off a sandlot play. On his own 48, he puts in his top recruit for a fake punt on fourth and 11. It was so obvious Alabama didn’t even put its punt return team on the field.
     Other than that, the biggest play in the game was when Tide quarterback Tuo Tagovailoa got hurt and was replaced by backup Jalen Hurts. If Tagovailoa doesn’t get hurt and stays in the game, Alabama does not win. You can give him the Heisman Trophy, but he is not the reason the Tide is top seed. Still, I think Georgia is better than Oklahoma. I think Ohio State probably is too. But again, it’s a shallow pool.
      How shallow is the pool really? How about this. It’s year five of the playoff. That’s four teams each year, a total of 20 playoff spots. Those 20 spots have gone to just 10 teams. This is the third time in the last four years than Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma have been in the field. Notre Dame is the only new thing about it. So when does it get stale? When do they go to eight teams? It’s like the way a lot of other things have gone to in sport. Keep adding the number of teams to give it variety, and make others feel better about themselves. I imagine that will eventually happen, but I have already felt the process has gotten a bit stale. I’d rather have the old bowl system of 20 years ago.
Good News:
    Pulaski County’s Cooper Dunnigan had successful knee surgery Tuesday morning, and word is that everything looks really good, and there was no minicus damage. The procedure on his ACL tear  had no complications. He is at home resting comfortably under the able supervision of his mother. He’s probably getting lots of hot chocolate. May stop by for a visit. Estimates are that Cooper should be back to full speed by next May, and that’s a full two months before the original estimate. Good news indeed.
All 3 Went Bowling:
     I’m sure all three had higher aspirations when the season started, certainly West Virginia did just a couple weeks ago, and Virginia Tech is just glad to be involved. The Hokies will play Cincinnati in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, home field for Navy. The players were likely hoping for something a bit warmer. WVU will face Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, and Virginia has what will likely be a tough matchup against South Carolina in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, and that could be chilly as well.
Big Change on Recruiting Front:
       Texas A&M is really making a dramatic push on the college recruiting front, and things have undergone a dramatic change in the state of Texas, one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country, and that fact might well mean the playoff thing could loose some of its staleness in the not too distant future. Consider this. Last year nine of the top 10 players in the state of Texas left. This year nine of the top 10 players from the state will be playing college football in their home state.
     New coaching changes at A&M and Texas have obviously had something to do with that. Presently the Aggies are number two in the nation, and the Longhorns have the seventh rated recruiting class. Alabama leads the way, Michigan is third, Georgia four, Oregon five, Clemson six, LSU eight, Notre Dame nine, and Oklahoma 10.
I’ll Take the High Road:
       The aftermath of Urban Meyer’s retirement announcement from Ohio State makes me remember what followed the Joe Paterno departure from Penn State. Unlike much of the media these days which seems to be in love with the low road, I don’t have anything negative to say about Meyer or Paterno. Meyer of course just announced his retirement from Ohio State. Paterno has been gone for a few years now at Penn State, and has passed. Just like the Paterno fiasco where he was blamed and proven wrongfully so, for everything, Meyer is already taking hits. I’m glad to say I met Paterno, had dinner next to he and his wife. Gracious people. I have never met Meyer.
     Issues that happened late in both careers have created all sorts of speculation and people love to be allowed to make whatever statement they want to express their views and scream for societal condemnation when the opportunity presents itself. I wish not to involve myself in such debate. I’ll just say this. Just because you are a head football coach does not mean you are responsible for all the good things, or all the bad things in the world. It appears to me that Urban Meyer and Joe Paterno were great football coaches, dedicated men to their profession, had a positive influence on thousands of people, and were or are devout family men. I find no fault in that.
By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot
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