After 72 hours away from a computer, I've finally recovered enough to sit down and talk about the game. I have purposefully avoided the the sea of content here (or anywhere else) about the game, so where others have already said the same thing, I can only say that I certainly agree. I jump on a plane out of California tomorrow morning, but before I do, a flurry of thoughts on the heartbreaking loss. Rather than publish one hyper-long post, I'll break the thoughts into several.
Nick Saban spent a year preparing for the SEC Championship rematch with Florida, and dominated the contest. He clearly needed more than a month to do the same to Texas.
Nevertheless... he won. They won. We can say that Alabama didn't get our best shot, but you know, and I know, and the dude who engraved the crystal trophy late in the fourth quarter of the game knew... the final score is all that matters. Flags fly forever.
Alabama is the national champion for the 2009 season, and they deserve our congratulations. They had a hell of a season, and they scored more points than we did on Thursday night. We played it out on the field; they won.
Congratulations, Alabama. Y'all are deserving national champions and have every right to be proud. I would be, too.
After the game, I couldn't bear to go near a computer. Didn't want to read my email, didn't want to read any stories about the game. I certainly didn't want to write anything, because I felt nothing good and had nothing good to say. I needed some time to rejoin the land of the living.
I can't even begin to imagine what Colt McCoy felt.
I guess I'm glad he's a man of such abiding faith; the cruel unfolding of events on Thursday night makes him the Job of college football. Whether he were to win or lose, no player in recent memory has more deserved the chance to prove it all on the big stage.
He didn't get it. Doc Saturday is one hundred percent right: "The cruelty is the mystery."
Let's be clear about this: Colt McCoy was dealt a ten-ton truck of bad luck. Big Roy has done a great job breaking down the fateful play, which shows how McCoy's split-second decisions led him to the spot where he'd take the hit knocking him out of the game. But only someone with an agenda could characterize the outcome as anything other than a terrible, tragic blow of bad luck. The same would be true (though arguably to a lesser degree) if he had, say, separated his shoulder, or even suffered a concussion... but as it was, McCoy simply took a hit on precisely the spot that would pinch a nerve.
Colt McCoy didn't get hurt. It's crueler than that...
He went numb.
As I write this sentence, Colt McCoy can probably throw a football just fine again. It rips my heart out just thinking about that. And I guarantee you that if it were practicable, more than a handful of Alabama fans would have gladly put everything on pause for a couple days so that the two teams could finish competing with McCoy on the field.
That's how this game will be remembered. We'll remember it as a game that we believe wholeheartedly Texas would have won had Colt McCoy stayed in the game.
Alabama (rightfully) won't remember it as a championship undeserved, but again, more than a few of their fantastic fans will remember feeling disappointed the Tide didn't get Texas's best shot. Because they believe just as strongly as we do that their team would have won with McCoy in the game.
Ultimately, we're both right. I feel confident in speculating that if the game were played out a thousand times, Texas would win hundreds of times -- most with McCoy, a few without him, and amongst them all, dozens in which they beat an Alabama team that had the terrible night of bad luck. On the flip side, of course, the Crimson Tide would roll the Longhorns hundreds of times -- most being contests in which McCoy did play the entire game.
Such a large sample would certainly improve our ability to talk about which team was the "best," but even then, no guarantees. An even or near-even split of victories would still raise the same questions. (To say nothing of the other top teams who might deserve consideration.)
In the end, there is no "best" -- only a champion. Had the entire Alabama team caught swine flu and forfeited this year's game, that would have been Texas.
As it happened, this year's champion is Alabama.
That much, we know.