Alabama Football: The Tide, not the Dawgs was the team of destiny

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: DeVonta Smith
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: DeVonta Smith /

The circumstances of Georgia’s extraordinary Rose Bowl victory suggested the Bulldogs were a team of destiny. Instead, destiny shone on Alabama football in the national championship.

There are moments in all kinds of athletic competition when a victor emerges by overcoming improbable circumstances. When it happens, it can appear as the victor was destined to prevail. Alabama football prevailed Monday night, overcoming improbable circumstances.

Destiny or what some call fate is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency.” Can that meaning apply to a sporting contest? Are not the vagaries of chance just as likely to determine an outcome? The answer to both questions is yes.

Narrowing the focus to college football, can a team be predicted to be one that will be shaped by destiny? That answer is no. The strongest clue something is destined to occur is only a sense, a vague hunch.

In the manner Georgia won the Rose Bowl, the Bulldogs gave the appearance of being a team of destiny. For almost all of the national championship game, Georgia’s performance reinforced that sense. Slowly at first, that perception faded and later vanished at the end. Alabama football became the team of destiny.

So many ways the outcome might have been different

Let’s review what could have easily gone wrong, but went right, culminating in the Crimson Tide victory.

  •  Either before the game or quickly in the first half, the Alabama football coaching staff decided running back led, power rushing would not work. The Tide’s most productive rusher, Damien Harris only gained 17 yards on six carries. Yet, the Tide rushed for 215 yards, mostly through Jalen, Tua and Najee Harris.
  • A true freshman QB, with almost no big-game experience, cannot perform as Tua did. The stage was just too big, The opponent too tough. Tua could only be asked to win if there was no other viable choice. Too big a stage it was not as Tua threw for three touchdowns.
  • Nick Saban, known for conservative game management, is not going to pull a 25-2 Jalen Hurts for an untested freshman. Maybe after a drive or two stalled in the second half, Nick’s normal self would have gone to Tua. Instead, Nick’s bold self went to Tua early enough the young man could make mistakes and have time to overcome them.
  • Speaking of mistakes. Tua threw an interception when he interpreted a play as a pass while his 10 teammates knew it was a run. At that point of a national championship game, most coaches would go back to the more experienced QB. Saban didn’t flinch. He stuck with what he knew was the Tide’s only chance to win.
  • Few teams can quickly bounce back from missing a last-second, game-winning field goal. Alabama just kept fighting.
  • Lastly, a group of mostly unproven true freshmen is not supposed to lead an offense to a national championship victory. But, Tua, Henry Ruggs III, Najee Harris, Devonta Smith and Alex Leatherwood did.

Alabama football had so many opportunities to lose Monday night. Was the Tide destined to win? Or was it more that collectively the Alabama players more strongly believed in victory than did Georgia? However, it is explained, the 17th Alabama football National Championship was one for the ages.

Next: Three Takeawys from the Tide's National Championship Win

In the ‘way-too-early’ phase of the 2018 college football season, Alabama football is the early favorite. Following the Tide are Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State.