It was a night full of anticipation, it was electric, but it was not complete.
Yes, Ohio State and Oregon gave us all we could have wanted in the Championship Football Playoff game. And yes, after years of debate, the NCAA got it right with a formula that worked. The semi final games that also included Florida State plus Alabama, were shootouts, and the Ducks-Buckeyes matchup was explosive.
But nothing is a complete success.
Ohio State was so dominant it was amazing. If not the power running back Ezekiel Elliott, then quarterback Cardale Jones. If not the Buckeyes defense, then the demanding dynamics and fire from Coach Urban Meyer.
The Scarlet & Gray numbers were staggering, 538-yards in offense…37-and-half minutes time of possession, all those first downs, all those third down conversions, all those big chunk yardage plays.
Oregon was equally dangerous, though much like Chip Kelly in the past, Coach Mark Helfrich’s package left something to be desired. Marcus Mariota became a one man gang, when Ohio State took away his running game, and the Ducks passing game was damaged by suspensions and injury. Not having Braylon Addison, Darren Carrington and Davon Adams were, and losing CB-Ekpre Olumu late in the year was devastating.The defense could not get off the field.
The Ducks were found wanting in the final game of their season, losing to OSU much like setbacks to LSU-Auburn and the likes at the end of previous years. And you wonder if Mariota is more a product of the system, rather than a true NFL quarterback.
Impressive too were the TV ratings, an ESPN record 18.5 Rating, highest for anything they have ever put on television. And the Ducks-Bucks game had 21% more viewers than last year’s BCS title game.
It doesn’t turn out to be the ‘Game of the Century’ type matchup. Notre Dame-Michigan State back in the day, or Oklahoma-Nebraska wishbone days, or Texas-USC-Leinart-Vince Young seem held in higher regard.
Sure TCU and Baylor remain miffed and who knows if either could have held up against Ohio State.
1-thing still unsolved, the money story. The NCAA is making money hand over fist, and yet college programs are bleeding, there is talk of player unions, bigger cost of living stipends, and the ever-reaching issues of Title IX and women’s programs. The arms race, the cost, to get coaches, keep coaches, and pay off fired coaches, is staggering.
The power five conferences in the playoff format beginning this year each get 10M a year. The NCAA this weekend awarded the parent or guardian of each player on the Ohio State-Oregon rosters, 2,500 travel expenses to come to Dallas for the game, and will do the same in basketball, for players on the March Madness final four rosters.
The NCAA convention is next, and the Big 5-Conference breakaway is about to be take place, and the financial aid issues, and academics battle lines still exist. The rich are getting richer, but those not inside that circle are not. Wyoming, Eastern Kentucky, Dartmouth and Mount Union, from 1AA to Division III, they don’t share in the wealth. You may be Division 1-Mountain West, Mid American, Sunbelt, Patriot League etc, but you really are not.
Oregon-Ohio State did the work and put on a great show. Much more work to be done at the NCAA level though, to fix the game off the field. On the field, the Ducks and Buckeyes took care of that.