SAN JOSE, Ca.---When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, I was a huge Yankee fan, which also made me a big Mickey Mantle fan, which meant that a pair of other outfielder's playing centerfield for the Brooklyn Dogers and New York Giants named Duke Snyder and Willie Mays didn't get star billing in the mind of a kid growing up in the 50's.
To me No. 7 was the greatest, which is why I watched with some irritation when Mick pounded out 54 home runs in 1961 and didn't get all the attention. Some guy named Maris hit 61 home runs that season, breaking a record set by Babe Ruth of 60 34 years earlier (over 162 games however, not 154)
I was also a big Boston Celtics fans in the 60's, with Bill Russell, who was on 11 NBA championship teams in 13 seasons, my favorite.
I didn't pay that much attention to Wilt Chamberlain, who might have been the greatest NBA player of all time--he AVERAGED 50 points a game during the 1962 season, including scoring 100 points in one game.
Where is this going? (Hang with me a bit longer).
I was also a big fan of horse racing, with the Triple Crown march of Secretariat in 1973, my favorite moment.
During those three races, starting with the Kentucky Derby, moving to the Preakness two weeks later, and finishing three weeks after that with Big Red's incredible 31 length victory in the Belmont, Secretariat became a legend.
The sublot of those races was Secretariat's challenges with a horse name Sham, who finished second in the Derby, second in the Preakness and made an early run in the Belmont, before deciding enough was enough--he finished last.
Sham was an almost tragic figure of frustration.
When I began writing about college football, one of the big stories was the rivalry between Florida State and Miami, which was the U vs. Bobby Bowden's teams.
Those were the days my friend.
It was an intense rivalry, won more often than not, many times in the final seconds, by Miami, which prompted Bowden to utter these words
As good as we were, we didn’t win a National Championship until 1993, mainly because we kept losing to Miami on missed kicks. I used to get mad because nobody else would play Miami. Notre Dame would play them, then drop them. Florida dropped them. Penn State dropped them. We would play Miami and lose by one point on a missed field goal, and it would knock us out of the National Championship. I didn’t want to play them, either, but I had to play them. That’s why I said, 'When I die, They’ll say, ‘At least he played Miami.'
Which brings us to college football as the 2019 season winds up on Monday night with the CFP national championship game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson.
It will be the fourth consecutive meeting in the playoffs between these pair of elite CFB powers, the third time for the national championship. Alabama has won two of three meetings, but the two teams are 1-1 in national championship meetings.
Alabama is a 5.5 favorite, which makes sense because the Tide is very, very good.
But so is Clemson, which is my point
Consider some numbers.
Clemson, under Dabo Swinney has produced 8 consecutive double digit win seasons.
In the last five seasons, Clemson has a combined record of 62-8.
That's ridiculous...and then you go to Column B....Alabama
That is Alabama coached by Nick Saban, who has 5 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS in the last 9 years.
That is Alabama, which has 11 CONSECUTIVE double digit victory seasons.
Clemson 62-8 the last five seasons?
Alabama is 67-5.
Sp there it is, all laid out for Clemson, which can play another role--an upgraded Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters (Googe it)
It can play the role of Chamberlain vs. Russell, or FSU vs. Miami or Sham vs. Secretariat.
A loss on Monday night will solidify that image.
But a win?
A victory will put the Tigers right next to the Crimson Tide, an equal among elites.