Tide wins the CFB title and a salute to Phil Niekro

Alabama won its sixth the national championship in the last 12 seasons Monday night, pulling away from Ohio State, 52-24.  After a competitive opening quarter, the Crimson Tide ran the Buckeyes out of the building.  There was a huge difference in the speed and talent level of the two teams.  Alabama, with Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, top QB Mac Jones, and top runner Najee Harris, all consensus first-team All Americans, overwhelmed the Buckeyes. It was over by the half.  Start the bus.

Fearless already had the loser of this game penciled in as the final No. 2-ranked team.  But this game was such a blowout that Ohio State (7-1) drops like a sack of potatoes.  Alabama  (13-0) had three games against SEC teams this season that were much closer than this one.  After trailing Georgia at the half on the Tide’s home field, Alabama rallied to win against a Bulldog team that curiously played its backup quarterback?  The Tide outscored a game Ole Miss team, 63-48,  then couldn’t put Florida away in the SEC title game, winning 52-46.  Compare that game and score to the Ohio State debacle.

Salute to the great Phil Niekro:   The Hall of Fame knuckleballer for the Braves.  Phil won 318 games in an MLB career that stretched from 1964 to 1987. Niekro started with the Braves in Milwaukee and finished with the Bravos in Atlanta in ’87.

Fearless had the good fortune to sit beside Phil in the dugout at the 1974 Old Timers Game in Atlanta Stadium.  We talked baseball while he smoked a cigarette.  He then went out and pitched against the San Francisco Giants.  

Fearless also met Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Ted Kluszewski that day in the Braves’ clubhouse.  What was fun was watching all the Giant players come over and get the autographs of Aaron, Mays and Kluszewski.  The players gushed over their good fortune.  Of course Mays and Kluszewski were retired, but the Hammer would play two more seasons.

Phil passed away recently at age 81.  He and brother, Joe, totaled 539 wins, a feat that will never be broken.  Happy trails to one of the greats.

As your lovable guru of the gridiron in the final column of our 53rd year, a tip of the sombrero to Craig Champion, completing his 26th season with TOFF.  Better known as Cousin Percy, Craig wrote more columns this year than in any other, filling in when Fearless had triple bypass surgery in December.  Those columns by Craig included last week’s.

With the national championship now in the books, Fearless says “good riddance” to 2020, may we never have another year like that one.  And with 2021, let’s take a final look to the rankings, both in the 2020 team rankings and in the current 2021 recruiting rankings.  

Fearless says, “I hope you have a healthy and prosperous 2021, and thanks for sticking by CFB in such a disjointed year in America.”

TOFF FINAL RANKINGS FOR 2020  (factors in strength of schedule)   1.  Alabama   2.  Texas A & M   3.  Georgia  4. Oklahoma  5. Ohio State   6.  Clemson   7.  Notre Dame   8.  Cincinnati   9.  Iowa State   10.  Florida.    Also, 11.  UNC  25.  N.C. State.

RECRUITING RANKINGS PER 247 SPORTS:   1.  Alabama   2.  Ohio State  3.  Georgia   4.  Clemson  5.  LSU  6.  Oregon  7. Texas A & M  8.  USC   9.  Notre Dame   10.  Oklahoma.  Also, 14. North Carolina  32.  N.C. State  46.  Georgia Tech.   (Alabama has 26 commits, Ohio State has 21, Georgia 20 and Clemson 19.)

Southeast Sports Syndicate, 2021.