By the fourth quarter of Monday night’s national championship game, I was watching something else.
Had I been an Alabama partisan, I likely would have watched every second. Maybe even if I had been a Buckeye rooter, I would have drowned my sorrow and gone to bed drunk, whether by alcohol or natural causes.
It’s possible to get drunk on success or failure, exultation or depression, pride or embarrassment.
Millions of football fans just want to see a good game. Too many games these days are balky engines that throw a rod. One team pulls ahead. The other gets desperate. Hilarity ensues. I’d just as soon get my hilarity from The Simpsons.
Clemson was on TV all year. Furman and Presbyterian were in COVID-19 shutdown. I watched past the first quarter three times: Notre Dame twice and Ohio State. For the rest of the season, I turned to channel surfing and playing “Wipe-Out” with similar mismatches.
Huh. Maybe Wyoming-Air Force is a decent game.
Once upon a time, I took great pride in staying for every second. The night Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, I was there, celebrating my 16th birthday. Most of the crowd left after the historic blast. Not I. I remember that the Dodger relief pitcher Mike Marshall somehow flew to Atlanta without his jersey and did mop-up duty in the late innings wearing No. 73.
I have a precise memory of that magical night. I won’t remember much about last night’s game other than the image of a guy wearing No. 6 (DeVonta Smith) roaming free as a wild mustang in the Buckeye secondary, where wild turkeys roamed.
By the fourth quarter, it was, “Move along. Nothing more to see here.” Had I been in the press box, I would have put my pen down.
Perhaps my NASCAR experience hinders me here. The stock car governing body is forever adjusting its rules, often absurdly, to keep the racing close.
Once upon a time, in 1947 to be exact, a famous broadcaster, Clem McCarthy, called the wrong winner of the Preakness Stakes because, out of his view, two horses carrying jockeys with similar silks changed positions. Another famous broadcaster, Bill Stern, was famous at the time for making up for mistakes with laterals. He would wrongly call the runner as Doc Blanchard when it was Glenn Davis, so he’d tell his radio listeners that Blanchard pitched the ball to Davis.
When Stern gave McCarthy grief for his Preakness gaffe, McCarthy shut him up by saying, “Well, Bill, you can’t lateral a racehorse.”
NASCAR would have waved a debris caution. It would have made another fast car “a lucky dog.” Fifteen cars would have gotten “the wave-around.”
If NASCAR ran college football, last night it would have allowed Ohio State to line up a conversion from its own 20, and an 80-yard pass would have been known as “going for 28.”
I’m not calling for such extreme measures. When a tackler is ejected for an inability to defy gravity, it is quite enough.
It’s just that in football, as in contemporary life, the best are getting better and the worst are getting worse.