Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Florida Gators: 2009 BCS National Champions, Part II

Three notes about the 2009 BCS Title Game:

1) I’m one of those people who despises the tendency of far too many football analysts who really should know better to use tired and nebulous psychological reasons to explain game developments rather than noting the role of little things like talent, strategy and execution. You know what I’m talking about: “momentum”, “confidence”, “the will to win” and the timeless classic “one team wanted it more”. But I don’t think it’s crazy to say Oklahoma’s failure to take advantage of golden opportunities in the first half must have affected them on some level. Remember, Florida never trailed in that game. Even when they were playing poorly they never trailed. As we all saw, the Sooners blew two big chances to go on top in the first half--the goal-line stand and Bradford’s INT inside the five. Given Oklahoma’s recent history of losing bowl games, including BCS championship games, their inability to get in front was costly. Meanwhile, Florida had a coach and a bunch of players who’d been there before. Self-doubt may have crept into psyche of the OU players, but in the second half the Gators played like a team with a whole lot of confidence.

2) By all the available evidence Tim Tebow, like Danny Wuerffel and Chris Leak before him, is a fine young man. But even a Gator fan can’t defend the full-blown idolatry of Tebow that spewed forth before, during and after the broadcast of the game. Unfortunately, all that talk about leadership, Phillipino slums and preaching to prisoners sort of swallowed up what Tebow actually did on the field against Okalahoma. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one shocked to see him throw two picks in the first half. And both were horrible throws. But he gathered himself and turned the game in Florida’s direction in the second half.

Tebow knew what the offense was doing wasn’t working and he flat-out told the coaches he was going to run it more. On his team’s second possession of the second half Tebow saw open space, took matters into his own hands and carried it five times for 49 yards to drag his team to the one where Harvin finished off the drive. Meyer admitted those runs weren’t brilliant play calls but Tebow making things happen. Then, after Bradford’s INT in the 4th quarter gave UF a chance for a game-sealing TD drive, Tebow switched up and delivered four clutch passes. First, on 3rd-and-12 scrambling to his left and finding Cooper for 17 yards. Then the 29-yard laser to Nelson to get the Gators into scoring position. Then a 9-yard pass on 3rd-and-6 to Hernandez. And finally the jump pass for the backbreaking TD to Nelson that chiseled Tebow’s legend into stone for all-time. Please note that with a championship on the line Tebow’s receivers for the biggest passes of his life were not named Harvin, or Demps or Rainey, but instead Nelson, Cooper and Hernandez (who?). Like no other Gator player before him Tebow defined clutch. I don’t know if meeting Tebow for five minutes would change my life or not, but I do know the man is one hell of a college football player.

3) I’ve watched a lot of football games in my life and after thinking it over I’m convinced that FOX’s telecast of the 2009 BCS Championship Game was the single worst broadcast of an important game I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It was freaking amateur hour.

--The announcers. No need to rehash the embarrassing Tebow worship of Thom Brennaman and Charles Davis. But what happened on the goal line stand when Brennaman had no clue what down it was on three straight plays? How does that happen? Did anyone think they’d ever watch see a big-time football that made them long for Joe Buck or Brent Musberger?

--The replays. Where were they? When FOX failed to treat us to all kinds of replays of Major Wright’s huge hit on a Sooner WR on the first possession, I had a feeling we were in for some trouble. As the night ensued big play after big play would go by and we’d never know if we’d luck out with a replay of it. If we did get one it was usually long after we stopped caring about the play. My favorite moment was after Percy Harvin got hurt in the 4th quarter. As he lay hurt on the field and the announcers babbled on about something, you could suddenly heard the stadium crowd start to boo. I immediately surmised the stadium Jumbotron must have shown how Harvin got hurt--a dirty hit. But who would know? Finally, after five minutes passed FOX deigned to show us a replay and lo and behold the OU tackler did grab and pull on Harvin’s leg. At least I think he did. The replay sucked and didn’t show the whole picture and then it was on to something else. Thanks FOX.

--The stupid Oklahoma snap clock. Most football broadcasts often show viewers a little something call the play clock. You know, snap the ball in 30 seconds or its delay of game. But not FOX. Rather than show the play clock they came up with some idiotic Sooner clock to impart to us just how fast the Sooner offense was getting up to the line of scrimmage after the end of their previous play. Sounds exciting right? Now I didn’t see a single OU game all year but from what eventually put together from the lame announcers was that running up to the line after the previous play was standard operating procedure all year for OU. The advantages were: (1) the defense wouldn’t be ready; or (2) the Sooners could see what formation the defense was in and the sideline would call in the right play to take advantage. But in the BCS Championship game the Sooners faced a superbly coached team, one that was always ready at the line of scrimmage before OU was and one that gave away nothing of importance in its formations. So what we got were endless shots of Bradford standing dumbfounded at the line, bleakly looking over towards the sidelines for help. He’d take so long sometimes that FOX would switch the screen to some kind of crazy quarter split screen to show Bradford at the line in one picture with a tiny shot of his yelling coach Bob Stoops in the other. Meanwhile, FOX’s stupid snap clock would approach and pass 30 seconds leading one to wonder if the Sooners were taking too much time. But how would we know? FOX never showed the actual play clock! Morons.

--The camera work. In addition to the aforementioned lack of replays, the crowd shots were certainly unique. Normally you expect to see reaction shots of people in the crowd. You know, the ones in funny outfits, the ones holding up the stupid signs, the hotties, etc. Not this time. FOX crossed us up. They somehow thought we’d prefer quick dizzying fraction-of-a-second shots panning the crowd from so far away that you couldn’t make out a damn thing. Vertiginous I believe is the correct adjective. When Harvin went down in the 4th we finally got a normal apropos shot of a shocked-looking female fan holding her hands over her mouth. Honestly, I’d never have noticed anything this stupid if the broadcast wasn’t so supremely horrible.

Luckily nothing, not even the worst broadcast ever, could take away the thrill of a national title.

1 comment:

sptrfn said...

I can't stand the Gators, but they will probably be in Pasadena at the end of 09 playing Oklahoma again. Those two teams are the big favorites going into the upcoming season. And, it looks like Tebow will be the second player to win two Heisman Trophys.