Last night, in the best National Championship game since USC-Texas, the Clemson Tigers scored with 1 second remaining to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 35-31.
It was an amazing game to watch, with Clemson refusing to give up despite trailing the entire game. I've never watched a Clemson game where Hunter Renfrow doesn't make a difference somehow. That kid is a great player and it was fantastic that he scored the game winning touchdown. He deserved it.
Nick Saban was gracious and classy in congratulating Clemson after the game, and even though he failed to match Bear Bryant by winning his sixth national championship, his legacy is untouched in my opinion. Saban is the greatest college football coach of all-time. Some people will disagree with that.
However, Saban could have cemented his status as the greatest coach ever without a doubt in my opinion had he done something creative at the end of the game. After the pass interference penalty that allowed Clemson to move to the 2 yard line with 6 seconds left, Saban and his defensive coordinator should have been telling his entire defense to pass interfere, hold, anything that wasn't cheap to make sure Clemson did not score a touchdown on that next play.
I don't mean once they realized they weren't going to stop them; I mean the plan the whole time should have been to interfere enough to make sure Clemson could not score a touchdown no matter what. Clemson trailed 31-28 with only six seconds remaining. Clemson was clearly going to either score a touchdown on that play or throw an incompletion within 5 seconds to allow for a field goal opportunity to tie the game.
So if Saban had simply told his players to take the penalty, Clemson would've obviously had a first down from the one yard line, but the play would've taken at least 3 or 4 seconds. That would've meant Clemson would've either had to choose to go for the game-winning score or kick the game-tying field goal, since with 2 or 3 seconds left at most there'd only be time for one more play.
Admittedly, for Saban to think of that while on the field making a million decisions in the last minute would've been difficult. However, someone as intelligent as Saban is in most situations would usually be prepared for that situation.
Alabama may still have lost in overtime, or maybe Clemson would've gambled and scored a touchdown on that final play, making Saban the scapegoat. However, if the goal was to win the game, which obviously it was, having every corner tackle every receiver before they ran their routes would've been the smart coaching decision.
As a fan, I'm glad they didn't and we got to see that game-winning touchdown. Alabama fans likely feel different this morning.
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