Two of the best coaches in college football faced off for the first time in the College Football Playoff National Championship game Monday. University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban has plenty of championship experience, previously coaching in eight national championship games heading into Monday night. His opponent, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, made his first appearance in the championship game.
Even after leading the Buckeyes to a 23-1 record and 5-1 versus top-ten opponents as head coach, Day’s inexperience on the big stage showed against the greatest head coach of all time. Alabama blew out Ohio State 52-24 in the final game of a season marred by the pandemic. The Buckeye defense had no answers for the Crimson Tide's well-oiled machine of an offense.
In a game that featured 12 top-50 NFL draft prospects, according to CBS sports, an all-around excellent performance was fully expected. Although the game wasn’t a nail biter, talent shined from both sides from beginning to end.
Alabama senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith, this season's Heisman trophy winner, dominated Ohio State’s defense, primarily because of defensive coaching errors. Ohio State’s defense was torched drive after drive as Smith scored three first half touchdowns and 215 yards on 12 receptions. Smith was the focal point of the Alabama offense, moving all across the field in pre-snap motion to confuse Ohio State’s defense.
Despite Ohio State’s star junior cornerback Shaun Wade saying he wanted to guard Smith before the game, the Buckeyes’ defensive gameplan said otherwise. Ohio State’s confused defense was stuck in single coverage on Smith. Even linebackers at times were put on Alabama’s greatest weapon throughout the first half. The defense refused to double Smith and no scheme succeeded in slowing him down.
In their previous game in the College Football Playoff Semifinal, with two weeks to prepare, Ohio State shut down the No. 2 Clemson University Tigers’ offense. However, with only one week, the Buckeyes failed to stop anything against the No. 1 Crimson Tide. The lack of national championship experience from Ohio State’s coaches were exposed, especially when against Nick Saban.
Two of the Buckeyes’ best players didn’t play due to positive COVID-19 tests along with two early injuries, only further damaging Ohio State’s chance of winning. When the Ohio State offense did score, it didn’t matter. The defense only forced two punts the entire game.
The Buckeyes were the last Big Ten team to win a national championship back in 2015, and the drought will continue for another year. After seven seasons of the College Football Playoffs, the Big Ten now has a 3-4 record. The Southeastern Conference continues to show its dominance, now sporting an 11-4 record after its fourth national championship.
Modern-day recruiting has only caused the rich to get richer. Since the start of the CFP only five teams have reached the playoffs more than one time.
My greatest hope is for more parity in college football, beginning with the playoffs. If college football wants a more balanced system, an eight team playoff is needed. This would specifically help the Big Ten get a second team in the playoffs each year resulting in more balanced recruiting.
At the end of the day, championships in college football are won because of recruiting and coaching. Although Ohio State matches the SEC powerhouse in recruiting, Alabama showed why they have become a dynasty, through their dominance by the entire coaching staff.