RANKMAN/Alabama and Georgia Deliver More Masterpiece Theater

The story of Jalen Hurts is why we keep watching sports

Bookworms and scientists wonder why we get so overtaken by sports. My sweet sister, the Art History professor, still doesn't understand why she makes WAY less money than her school’s head basketball coach.

Saturday is why.

If only Van Gogh had lost his ear diving for a first down...?

Sports are the last unscripted drama in a world of politics, pablum, Facebook fakes, spin doctors and doctored photos.

Sometimes I think it's the only thing, other than your dog, left to trust.

What Jalen Hurts did Saturday is why we keep coming back, no matter how bad Pac 12 championship games can be.

Alabama, Hurts, Georgia and the Southeastern Conference delivered it all to us, Saturday, on a platter.

THAT was a masterpiece.

When people say “You can’t make this up?” they are talking about games like Alabama vs. Georgia. Last January, on the very same field in Atlanta, featuring the very same teams, Hurts was benched at halftime in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa. It was probably the hardest decision Nick Saban ever had to make, but it was the right one.

Tua rescued Alabama and threw the national title-clinching touchdown pass, in overtime.

Hurts was burnt, even griped during spring ball, but he didn’t transfer. What he did was sit all season while watching Tagovailoa lead the Crimson Tide on an epic 12-0 ride.

It takes a lot of patience to wait for a moment that may never come, but Hurts got his second chance Saturday after Tagovailoa injured the second of his two ankles.

Hurt entered the game with Alabama losing and led the game-tying drive in the fourth-quarter before running in the go-ahead score in a 35-28 win.

The victory clinched a playoff berth for No. 1 Alabama and probably knocked two-loss Georgia out.

The status of Tagovailoa, who was carted away from the SEC victory podium, is not immediately known.

He had a shaky outing, completing only 10 of 25 passes, with two interceptions. The performance, on the same day quarterback Kyler Murray went nuts on Texas in the Big 12 title game, might even cost Tagovailoa the Heisman Trophy.

A couple weeks ago, Tua was so far ahead in the Heisman race it seemed he could not be caught.

But what do we keep saying about sports? You always have to stay until the end.

Saban, winner of six national titles and owner of the stiffest lower jaw in college football, has rarely been as emotional as he was following Saturday’s victory.

“I’m so proud of this guy for what he’s done this year I can’t even tell you,” Saban told CBS.

Hurts seem shell-shocked during his interview.

When Tua went down, Hurts said “I honestly did not know what to think.”

Don’t think, kid, go PLAY, which is what Hurts did.

It’s too bad for Georgia, which had a chance to put this game out of reach—but did not. Just like last January’s national title game.

The SEC title game could not have been in more glaring contrast to Friday night’s Pac 12 championship game, which was a theatrical and optical disaster for a conference that capped a terrible season with a resounding dud.

Washington defeated Utah, 10-3, with neither team scoring an offensive touchdown. Only 35,000 people showed up at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, which is hosting this year’s college football’s national title game.

The Los Angeles Times, where I worked for four decades, took Associated Press wire copy and ran the story on page six of the sports section.

Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott, in a week where he was skewed by a four-part series in the Oregonian, was booed loudly at the post-game trophy presentation.

In his pre-game press conference, Scott sounded tone-deaf to the storm clouds around him.

His conference was eliminated from the four-team playoff before the game, even though Scott sounded like the selection committee might need some more time to mull it over.

“This year our teams may not have the record to make it,” Scott said of a title game that featured two, three-loss schools.

Ya think?

Scott’s best fall back is the long-standing contractual obligation that requires the Pac champion to fall to no worse than the Rose Bowl.

Washington, a fine team, will make its first appearance since the 2000 squad, coached by Rick Neuheisel, defeated Purdue.

Neuheisel is a former UCLA player, head coach, USC law student and Rose Bowl MVP.

He now covers the SEC for CBS.

Yep, that just about covers it.


Chris Dufresne
EditorChris Dufresne
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Chris Dufresne
EditorChris Dufresne
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