Choose your own season (cont.)
You are: Alabama coach Nick Saban
After that loss in College Station on Sept. 14, the players finally got it. You'd think after two of these -- hell, the guys who redshirted have been through three -- they'd have already figured it out. The end result doesn't matter. It's the Process. One loss of focus during a Tuesday practice can be the difference between a championship and a hundred people calling Paul Finebaum saying it's time to run your butt out of town. Well, that loss woke them up. Your players ripped through everyone else. They even whipped South Carolina in the SEC title game. Cyrus Kouandjio made himself a fortune blocking Jadeveon Clowney. Good thing you started plugging in your next left tackle in bowl practice, because Kouandjio is gone after this.
Still, how you got to the BCS title game isn't nearly as interesting as how your opponent got here. Boise State went 12-0. The Broncos' best win came at Washington in Week 1, but no one else went undefeated. Sure, some voters had you or Ohio State or Oregon at No. 1. But every non-AQ coach who votes in the Coaches' Poll -- all 25 of them -- gave one last double middle finger to the BCS and ranked Boise State No. 1. That, plus a few No. 1 votes in the Harris Poll, made the Broncos No. 2 in the final BCS standings. So here they are.
You worried about this. When you watched film, you noticed your players noticing that your team has superior athletes at every position. You pointed to the film and reminded them that the Broncos always play their assignments. What they lack in blue-chip talent they make up for in consistency. It's almost as if Chris Petersen has his own process. You remind your players that it's only one game. Anything can happen.
Before you took the field on Jan. 6, you left your players with one reminder. "Men," you said, "just watch out for the Statue of Liberty."
Now, 59 football minutes later, your gut churns. Those moon pies you had this morning aren't settling well. Every fear you had this past month has come to life. On paper, you should be winning this game by 40. Instead, you're winning by four. The Broncos are driving. Your defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart, is making great calls, but their quarterback, Joe Southwick, is gutsy. He's hanging in the pocket, knowing he's about to get hammered, and throwing strikes.
They get down to your eight-yard line. One more play. Stuff them, and you win your third national championship in a row. All those stupid press conferences and parades will cut into your recruiting time, but there's a net gain for the deal. Southwick takes the snap. He drops back. He raises his right arm. He doesn't have the ball in his right hand. You scream. Your defenders keep playing the pass as Southwick uses his left hand to slip the ball into the gut of tailback Jay Ajayi.
Someone is probably getting engaged tonight.
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