So the BCS National Championship might have been one-sided. It might have been a let-down compared to the regular season OT thriller between LSU and Alabama. Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, was a non-factor. LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson looked lost and almost ready to tap out in favor of backup Jarrett Lee, or even Mr. Bentley. Les Miles looked, well, less of a coach than Nick Saban.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not an LSU fan. I respect both teams and have rooted for and against both in different situations over the years. I was just hoping for a little more ebb and flow for a national title game. The Nov. 6 matchup was riveting, even without the plethora of points that had become all the rage this bowl season (they are still picking up athletic supporters off the Alamo Bowl field from Baylor’s 67-56 win overWashington).
I actually was looking forward to a defensive struggle. I wanted field goals. They were all Alabama’s. I thirsted for punts. They, mostly, were LSU’s. I waited for game-changing plays. They just never really came. Trent Richardson’s lone TD came with time running out on LSU in the fourth quarter.
But there was one truly refreshing quality to the game played out in the Superdome Monday night, the officiating. What? You didn’t really notice? Perfect. That’s what you want. That’s just not the norm anymore. But this game differed from the flag-fests to which I am usually subjected.
There were 6 flags thrown in the game. Three were false starts. You can’t ignore them. Two were offside penalties. Again, no-brainers. No holding flags. No blocks in the back. No hands to the face or interference calls. The only other penalty called was a roughing flag on a punt return where a fair catch was signaled. No defenseless receiver flags, or illegal hits on quarterbacks. Not even a replay review (Did they replay the spot on the early fake field goal?? If they did, it must have been all handled during the time out. I don’t recall any others).
There were enough bit hits and sideline hits that certainly one or two might be been flag-worthy. Enough pushing and shoving after whistles. I thought I saw the LSU fullback land an uppercut at one point. But the officials never let the hankies fly. Whistles were swallowed. And the game was played. And it was a beautiful game from that perspective. I’m sure there are some plays where flags may have been warrented but I didn’t see any that had any major affect on how the game would turn out. And that’s how it should be.
Former Bills coach Marv Levy was famously caught by an NFL Films crew scolding a referee by calling him an “over-officious jerk”. Marv was not one for swearing. But his point was “quit making up penalties to get on TV, guys.” I blame replay for most of it and the complexity of rules created by slowing the action down so much. It’s hard to believe a Rec football game can survive with two officials and no replay. But is sure is refreshing to see the BCS National Championship game run like one.