Something shocking happened to Alabama head coach Nick Saban when he woke up this morning. As he walked down the hallway to get his morning cup of coffee, he noticed that there was an empty spot on the shelf where his “I’m the Greatest Coach in College Football” trophy used to sit. All that remains is dust. And Saban understands why.
Urban Meyer now has the trophy after his Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks 42-20 in the inaugural College Football Playoff (CFP) championship played on Monday Night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex.
For most fans, it has been an incredible journey for Meyer given his circumstances over the past few years.
We all mocked Meyer when he retired from the game in 2010 stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
We all dismissed the Buckeyes when they went undefeated (12-0) in Meyer’s first season as head coach because a majority of those wins came against weak Big Ten opponents.
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We all laughed at Meyer when the Buckeyes lost their final two games a season ago (the Big Ten championship game to Michigan State and the Orange Bowl to Clemson) and wondered if he was ready to retire again to be with his family.
We didn’t feel sorry for Meyer when it was announced that star quarterback Braxton Miller would miss the entire 2014 season with a right shoulder injury.
And we all laughed when the Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech at home in the second game of the season.
But now that Meyer has won his third national title, the jokes have stopped and the laughter has ceased. This is a coach that we should all learn to respect because his record on the field commands it.
Given the fact that Meyer lost both Miller and backup quarterback J.T. Barrett to season ending injuries makes this story even more amazing. When Barrett was lost in the Michigan game, there was no way that Meyer and his coaching staff could get third-string quarterback Cardale Jones ready for action. In fact, when was the last time you heard about any team winning a championship with their third-string quarterback?
By the time Jones took the field last night against Oregon for his third career start, it was almost as if he was a veteran at the position. He played so well against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and Alabama in the CFP semifinal that we all quickly forgot that he was a third-stringer. And deep down, something tells me that Saban would not have been able to pull that off if he lost starter Blake Sims and backup Jake Coker.
Seriously, think about it. If Alabama was forced to start unknown redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman in the SEC Championship Game, would Alabama run off a 59-0 victory over Missouri like Ohio State did over Wisconsin?
It’s an amazing story for Urban Meyer that will continue a season from now when the Buckeyes take the field to defend their National Championship.
But next season, Meyer will face the biggest coaching challenge of his career. Who will be his starting quarterback if all three come back?