Thursday, January 08, 2009

Florida Wins The National Championship(!)
Victory Wasn't Pretty, But It Was Effective

It's funny: I couldn't enjoy that game for one minute, at least until the TD to make it 24-14.

But now? Oh, yes.

In a way, when you expect to win a national title (especially since all the way back to August), the championship itself feels weird -- like confirmation more than celebration.

OK: Reactions?

More than anything: Florida's defense went up against the most prolific offense in college football history and held them to 14 points, something no other team can touch.

(To Oklahoma's credit, their defense was outstanding. The difference between winning and losing was a handful of Percy Harvin home runs and that little jimmy pass to Hernandez...over and over and over.)

Was Tebow great? He started the game SO tight. He had a couple of amazing scrambles to keep drives alive. He made a couple of terrific throws. Mainly, his enthusiastic outburst turned the game's momentum around. I particularly liked his unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty late, doing the Gator Chomp in the face of an Oklahoma defensive player. Taunting? Never. Celebration.

Still: Tebow's legacy is secure -- two national titles (one as a starter, one as a key role player), a Heisman, a 3rd-place Heisman finish. The Speech. The images of his enthusiasm. Top 5 all-time? I'd say so. The question: With a title to call his own, will he come back next year?

I loved the very first reaction from Tebow when he was interviewed on the podium by Fox:

"I just want to thank the fans. They are so unbelievable... I just love being a Gator and I thank all of you!"

(Yes, he eventually got to thanking Jesus, but (a) there's nothing wrong with that -- I give him so much credit for, as usual, not shoving it in our faces, and (b) that he prioritized his thankfulness for the fans and for being a Gator is at the core of his appeal.)

Speaking of legacies, how about Percy Harvin? With two titles of his own, and an MVP-level performance in this title game, maybe he deserves some "all-time" props of his own.

OK, as for the polls: An ugly game is precisely what some contrarian AP voters would be looking for as an excuse to nullify their penultimate poll and split the title.

That said: Florida went into the game as the AP No. 1, and they beat the AP No. 2 team, soundly and, in the end, decisively -- again, the defining number was "14," which compared to Oklahoma's scoring-binge season, was absolutely stunning.

It would defy all logic -- the voters' own logic -- if enough AP voters didn't vote for Florida as national champ. (Although to be sure, I'm sure there will be plenty of AP voters looking for a little self-promotion for themselves by going with USC or Utah.)

Anyway, I'm going to go savor this one. It was a slog, there's no question about that. But it was a championship.

-- D.S.


psm said...

Wait, so not only are you praising Tebow for his unsportsmanlike penalty call, you are giving a guy with "John 3:16" painted on his face credit for not shoving Jesus on us?

Wow, just wow.

Rosser said...

Hat's off to Florida. Winning the BCS is no small feat. At all. That being said, Florida vs Utah would be a good game and Florida vs USC would be an effing beatdown.

Unknown said...

oh fuck you. you are such a homer. tebow isn't top 5 of all time. he isn't top 20 of all time. ridiculous. i'm not even a sooner fan, but i just find tebow so overrated. everyone i know finds him overrated. it's only florida fans that like that jesus loving douche. you're a joke.

mmmm beefy said...

The sooners partly held themselves to 14 point with the 2 failed red zone possessions at the end of the first half. If they convert 1 of them or even kick FG's the complexion is the game is very different. Florida's D was large there but a passing team running it 4 times in a row and then Bradford's ill advised throw for the pick was larger

Biff said...

Dan... Ole Miss.

As a BYU fan, I *hate* Utah... but they've got a better argument than anybody... the polls are BCS biased, and it simply is a shame that Florida and Utah don't get a chance to prove who is the real champ on the field. Utah has enough quality wins, period. Florida has some quality wins, but a terrible loss. That would be acceptable if the final decision was by playoff. The fact that it is not, and the terrible loss somehow became irrelevant is just ridiculous.

Congrats on the win, but try to put yourself into the shoes of a Utah fan... is this system fair? Hell no.

EDurana said...

2 interceptions against a porous Sooner defense and you still rank him top 5? Dan, I'm a huge fan of yours but come on!

bird said...

What is better about this Gator national championship than the one two years ago??

When the team goes to the White House in a month or two, there will be a REAL President greeting the guys, as opposed to Mortimer Snerd!

It's great to be a Florida Gator!