Teams & Conferences

Daily Ask CFN: Was Clemson-Alabama The Greatest National Championship Ever?

Daily Ask CFN: Was Clemson Over Alabama The Greatest National Championship Ever?

The Daily Ask CFN Question: Was Clemson’s win over Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship the greatest national title game of all-time?

Welcome to the offseason feature of the Daily Ask CFN. Please shoot over your questions to @PeteFiutak and I’ll try to roll with at least one a day.

For the most part, I’ll answer the questions I’m being asked on most radio appearances, continuing with …

Was Clemson-Alabama The Greatest National Championship?

It’s a week after the tremendous Clemson win over Alabama to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship, with just enough time passing to not get caught up in the possible overreaction from a brilliant game that just happened.

Asked on every radio appearance since then about where to put the greatness of this game among the others, my immediate reaction was that it’s not even close to the gold standard all-time great national championships, but if Tony Barnhart says it is, I’m not going to argue.

Okay, fine. Yeah, I’ll argue.

Barnhart is hardly one to overblow a game or a moment, and there’s no one better to put a classic like Clemson over Alabama into proper perspective, but there were a few issues that – in my opinion – puts it behind the other all-timers.

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1. Jalen Hurts

Yeah, he ran for a brilliant 30-yard score, but the 13-of-31, 131-yard, one score performance – with 68 of those yards coming on one play to O.J. Howard – was brutally painful at times. Give Clemson’s defense some credit, but Hurts wasn’t hitting his targets, either. Because of the Alabama passing game, there wasn’t the high level of play of some of the other great games.

2. Bo Scarbrough got hurt

I’m not in the Alabama-wins-if-Scarbrough-doesn’t-get-hurt camp, but it certainly didn’t help the Tide’s cause. At the very least, the case could be made that the fourth quarter is a whole lot different if the Bama offense could’ve controlled the clock a bit more.

3. Hunter Renfrow’s game-winning touchdown catch

It was offensive pass interference. Sorry, but it was.

Check out the 2:35 mark of this and see if it doesn’t look a wee bit familiar.

4. The buildup and hype

It just wasn’t there.

We all tried to crank up the rematch/sequel aspect to the game, but it just didn’t have the buzz partly because it wasn’t a season-long march to the epic showdown like there was leading up to the 2006 Texas vs. USC Rose Bowl, and partly because there was just a week to get hyped for it after the College Football Playoff semifinals. Obviously, Clemson earned its stripes now, but that loss to Pitt sort of killed the juggernaut aspect to the 2016 team.

So if it’s not the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship – and realizing beauty is in the eye of the beholder – then what was the greatest national title game of all-time?

Remembering that there weren’t true national championship games before the BCS era just 20 years ago, there aren’t a whole lot of great games to go off of on a historical level, but my top five would be

Again, shoot over your questions to @PeteFiutak