*Sigh* ... college football season is officially over and, yep, it came to a close with yet another blowout. Alabama is once again on top of the college football world, continuing the dynasty with authority last night. I've got you covered with plenty of items from Monday's title game, but we've also got some more big news to talk about -- including a semi-surprising NFL coaching change and a suspenseful development in the NBA.
Bring it on.
📰 What you need to know
1. Alabama cruises to another national title 🏆
I was desperately hoping for a close, dramatic title CFP title game last night ... and for a little while it looked like we might get one. But Alabama's explosive offense was relentless and pulled away, keeping their foot on the gas until they cruised to a 52-24 win over Ohio State. That's yet another title victory for Bama and Nick Saban, who made history as the only coach to win seven national championships. (Saban has six at Alabama and one at LSU.)
You want a fun fact that'll blow your mind? Saban now has more national championships to his name than the other 129 active FBS coaches combined. Just an absolutely preposterous stat.
Here are a few more stunning stats from Monday's game:
- The Crimson Tide put up 621 yards of total offense on Ohio State
- Alabama's 52 points is the highest postseason points ever scored on Ohio State
- DeVonta Smith made 12 catches on his first 13 targets for 215 yards and three touchdowns ... all in the first half (Smith left the game with a hand injury in the second half)
- Mac Jones got banged up as well but went 36-of-45 for 464 yards and five touchdowns through the air
How about one more stat for the road? Alabama finished out the season averaging 48.5 points per game, which is the most in SEC history.
The amount of insanely talented skill position players that have come through Tuscaloosa over the past couple of years is just patently absurd, and Bama's gamebreakers were virtually unstoppable on Monday night. In the words of Saban himself, "good defense doesn't beat good offense anymore." And, as a Texas fan, it was beautiful to read Dennis Dodd's summation of Saban's greatness and how it's rubbed off on Steve Sarkisian:
- Dodd: "In each of the last two national title games, a wonder boy play-caller had the game of his life on his way out the door. [Joe] Brady is now with the Carolina Panthers and possibly set to take an NFL head coaching job this offseason. Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian -- the nation's best assistant coach in 2020 -- oversaw a unit that scored at least 35 points in 25 of the last 26 games."
So a big congratulations to Bama for being so damn good that last night's game was disappointingly one-sided. In a college football season that was incredibly unpredictable and chaotic, the Tide's dominance was a constant ... and they left no doubt who the best team in the country was last night.
2. Doug Pederson and Eagles part ways 👋
After Week 17's embarrassing Eagles debacle, I wondered whether Doug Pederson's standing and job security within the organization might take a hit. Ultimately, Pederson and the Eagles decided to part ways yesterday, ending the coach's tenure in Philadelphia just three years after he coached the birds to a Super Bowl title. He's the first coach to be fired within three years of winning a Super Bowl since the Colts axed Don McCafferty in 1973.
- The team met with Pederson on Monday in Florida before electing to part ways
- Pederson reportedly grew frustrated with the front office meddling with his head coaching decisions
- The final straw was a refusal to allow him to promote Press Taylor from passing game coordinator to offensive coordinator
- Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie: "I have spent the last few weeks evaluating everything from this past year and looking ahead. We are all very disappointed with the way our season went and are eager to turn things around, not just for next season but for the future of our franchise. Coach Pederson and I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss what that collective vision would look like moving forward. After taking some time to reflect on these conversations, I believe it is both in our best interests to part ways."
All things considered, I'd have to imagine that the decision to tank in Week 17 came from upstairs, which sucks for Pederson because he took a ton of heat for that mess and didn't even get to keep his job for the trouble. But it seems safe to assume the coach will have an opportunity to bounce back and lead another organization soon, perhaps one that will give him more control.
As for what's next for the Eagles, our Jeff Kerr has put together a list of candidates that could replace Pederson ... and it likely won't come as much of a surprise that Eric Bieniemy is leading the pack.
3. NBA continues to struggle with COVID-19 outbreak 🏀
The NBA still finds itself in a bit of a mess as it attempts to navigate COVID-19 early in this new year. The league has been hit hard by outbreaks within different organizations over the past week -- several teams have struggled to put the required eight players on the floor because of the virus. Postponements are starting to pile up and the league now has to decide the appropriate next steps.
- Two games were postponed due to COVID-19 on Monday: Pelicans-Mavericks and Celtics-Bulls. Both postponements came as teams conducted contact tracing and found that more players needed to be quarantined
- We're now up to a total of four games postponed this season
- The NBA has set an emergency Board of Governors meeting for today to discuss where the season goes from here
The league recently said it has no plans to press pause on the season, though there's always the chance that they reconsider that stance based on how messy things have gotten in recent weeks. That being said, there was an expectation that things would get worse after the holidays, so maybe the league will try to endure this spike while making some significant changes to protocols.
Whatever the league decides, it sounds like the next few days could bring some big news, so stay tuned for that.
4. Predicting what the March Madness changes will look like 🏀
I probably don't need to tell you that this year's NCAA Tournament is going to look a little different than it would in a normal year. We already know that the entire tournament will be held in the state of Indiana and have a condensed schedule, but COVID-19 will undoubtedly impact the tournament in other ways as well.
In order to get an idea of what this year's March Madness may look like, we had our Matt Norlander gaze into the future and give predictions for multiple aspects of the tournament -- including key dates and overall schedule. Here's how he thinks the schedule will look:
- Sunday, March 14: Selection Sunday
- Friday, March 19: First Four (four games)
- Saturday, March 20: First round (16 games)
- Sunday, March 21: First round (16 games)
- Monday, March 22: Second round (eight games)
- Tuesday, March 23: Second round (eight games)
- Saturday, March 27: Sweet 16 (four games)
- Sunday, March 28: Sweet 16 (four games)
- Monday, March 29: Elite Eight (two games)
- Tuesday, March 30: Elite Eight (two games)
- Saturday, April 3: Final Four
- Monday, April 5: National championship
It's important that I clarify that these aren't solidified dates, it's just the schedule that Norlander envisions when he sees the tournament play out in his mind. It's also worth noting that the off-days included in this schedule could also be used to play postponed games, if necessary. If you want to get more into the finer details, Norlander also put together a full potential schedule using Jerry Palm's most recent bracket projection.
The more you look at this projected template, the more you realize it's going to be a chaotic, nearly non-stop event for a couple of weeks. Norlander says he thinks it's "going to be fascinating" and "the best viewing experience in tournament history."
The tournament is always a crazy and chaotic adrenaline rush, but condensing the entire thing is like shifting up and hitting the NOS button, so prepare yourself for that ride. Speaking personally, not having a tournament in 2020 has only made me hungrier for a crazy experience this year.
📝 Odds & Ends
- The White Sox signed free-agent reliever Liam Hendriks to a record-breaking deal
- Our newest NBA power rankings have a new No. 1
- Another NASCAR iRacing driver has apologized for using a slur during a live stream event
📺 What to watch today
🏀 No. 9 Wisconsin vs. No. 7 Michigan, 7 p.m. | MICH -3.5 | TV: ESPN
🏀 Pacers vs. Warriors, 10:30 p.m. | GSW -2.5 | TV: NBATV
📝 Top scores from last night
🏈 CFP National Championship: Alabama 52, Ohio State 24
Alabama posted 621 yards of total offense en route to an 18th national title.
💵 Winning wagers: BAMA -9.5, Over (75)
Bradley Beal had 34 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in the upset.
💵 Winning wagers: WSH +203, Over (232)