The Great 2016 College Football Season: temporary relief of college football domination?
Let us be the last to chime in about what a great game we all watched when Clemson defeated Alabama, 35-31, to win the CFP title game in epic fashion as Deshaun Watson fired a touchdown pass into the end zone at the Alabama two-yard line to WR Hunter Renfrow with one second left to complete college football domination by Alabama at the FBS level – at least for this year. You just can’t wrap up the most exciting sport of any with a more dazzling finish to cap it all off. We tried to get attend that game, but for at least $2,200 per ticket, we just couldn’t do it. We stumped around Tampa on Sunday at local watering holes mostly frequented by Clemson fans. Many were overheard to be telling Alabama fans that they hoped The Tide would take it easy on their team, but like us, they all hoped for at least a tight rematch based on last year’s 45-40 win by the Crimson Tide. We all got more than that!
The Tigers had to be ready to step in up under HC Dabo Swinney, and they did. They went toe to toe, and even when The Tide took over the lead with a little over two minutes left, my new-found friends and I at the Green Diamond Bar in Venice, Florida, all not so much rooting for Clemson, but instead looking for the end of Alabama’s domination, thought that there may have been too much time left on the clock for the Tigers to come back for a win. A good return, a penalty, and a couple of dazzling catches by wide receivers took the Tigers to the two when Watson and Renfrow connected for the winning score. Story book ending. Great game! Why can’t the next season start tomorrow? At least Bama’s college football domination has been put on temporary hold.
We learned our lesson. The CFP championship is on the “bucket list.” Next year, the road leads to Atlanta in the new $1.8 billion replacement of the “obsolete” Georgia Dome. Our fund for a game ticket or two has already started with a little budget to still keep us on the road “to see ‘em all” and to the attend the most competitive games we can afford no matter what division of NCAA football from week to week. Every college football season for us just seems to get better and better. 2016 was no exception. Our biggest disappointment was not laying out the money early when the prices were $400, but what did we know? We thought prices would eventually come down, not escalate to the levels they eventually did. We heard some die-hards bought tickets on the last day for $15,000!
The whole system has changed. We monitored the internet where the prices kept going up. Few tickets seemed available on the streets of Tampa. One guy stripped off his shirt to wear only a white undershirt on a 40 degree Sunday. On it he wrote, “Two tickets section 350, $4400.” What’s in my wallet? Not that much. I knew I was destined for my back up plan to head to the Green Diamond and see some of my late Uncle Rick’s friends there. A friend whose daughter goes to Clemson told me that the students there had to enter a lottery to get student tickets by shelling out $500 each. College student thickets? That’s a shame. I thought college football should be primarily for college kids. Those days are gone. Someone should have put a stop to that. Too much greed is overtaking what should be a college memory for as many kids attending the participating schools as possible, not just the ones who can get money from rich Mom and Dad!
Another thing that made this season even better, it not only sidetracked Alabama’s growing college domination in the FBS, but it resulted in other divisions ending dynasties by other teams to finish with new national champions. The FCS 2016 College football season ended with new national champions putting an end to the five-year FCS college football domination by North Dakota State. The James Madison Dukes defeated the Bison on their home turf in Fargo, ND in the semifinal, 27-17. Youngstown State took Eastern Washington down on a last second behind the defender’s back scoring catch in the end zone to best the Eagles in Cheyney, Washington, 40-38. In their finale, the Dukes defeated the Bo Pellini-coached Penguins 28-14, for the FCS crown in Frisco, Texas – another bucket list destination one of these years.
In Division 3, the two perennial champions of the last 11 years, Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater were ousted from the playoffs before the semi-final winners headed to Salem, Virginia to play for the championship. The Purple Raiders and Warhawks met nine times over the past eleven years to settle the dual college football domination of the national championship at the lowest level of NCAA football competition. However, UWW took an ouster in the quarterfinals to John Carroll University, 31-14. JCU also defeated Mount Union, in the final day of Ohio Athletic Conference play, 31-28, to knock the Purple Raiders off their No. 1 D3 pedestal heading into the playoffs. However, in semi-final action, No. 6 John Carroll fell in a close one to Wisconsin Oshkosh, 10-3. In the other semi-final game, another defensive struggle, No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor of Texas defeated Mt. Union, 14-12. The title game scene was set in Salem for the first time in 12 years without either team garbed in the purple of the Raiders nor the Warhawks. MH-B and UW Oshkosh slugged it out in a defensive battle with the team from Texas coming out on top, 10-7.
Only in D2 did a repeat Champion make its way to the top as the NW Missouri Bearkats defeated North Alabama for the national championship, 29-3. NW Missouri took the title for the third time in four years. They’ve won six titles overall. Congratulations to them and the other three national champions of 2016. In all instances, it might only be a reprieve as Alabama, North Dakota State, Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater will probably all be in the hunt for national championships next year, but we can all savor the 2016 season as maybe the beginning of the end of college football dominations.