Call it the "Game of the Century," if you will, but what century?
Back in the day when football subsisted on defense, this would have been a classic. And in Louisiana, it will forever be, though neither LSU nor Alabama was able to cross the goal line in Tuscaloosa Saturday night while a good portion of the nation looked on in America's parlors.
But how can any game be called "Game of the Century" when neither team is able to muster a touchdown? It is, of course, a short century, in its infancy, only its 11th season. The football purists will consider it a classic, because defense is as much a part of the game as offense in their mind. And in that sense, it was indeed a classic of tackling, blocking, punting and in the decisive finale, kicking the ball through the uprights. Final score: 9-6, LSU three field goals to Alabama's two.
It was, indeed, a football game decided by the foot, that being the foot of Drew Alleman of LSU. Not to mention the foot of Brad Wing, the Tigers' punter from Brisbane, Australia. It was he who delivered a punt 70 yards over the head of the Alabama safetyman that presented LSU decisive field position.
Yes, if LSU had won in Baton Rouge, there would be grounds for a rematch. But winning in Tuscaloosa? No way.
It was clean, hard-fought, and no doubt that the better team prevailed. Yet, there was the unwavering sportsmanship of Les Miles in his closing interview with Tracy Wolfson of the CBS television network. Would he consent to a rematch of the two teams?
"I would be honored to play this great team again," the LSU coach replied in a clear and decisive voice.
Les Miles is an unabashed kind of guy who deals in straightforward conversation. He has some idiosyncrasies, such as plucking blades of grass to chew on sometimes on the practice field. He's a Michigan man, one who might have been the savior of the Maize and Blue, had he been called upon. (And may have been, for all I know. But he knows where he is, the people he's coaching for, and from what I have seen, gives forth in straightforward responses).Right now there is no doubt which is the No. 1 team in the country. "Game of the Century?" -- I never bought into that from the start. Yeah, two tough, well-coached football teams, but both improvising at quarterback, searching for an offense that never came to life. When you search back over the history of 2011 college football, would you ever settle for a game between two teams unable to work up a touchdown between them as the highlight of the season? Hardly, I'd say. Hardly.
I'll say this: I have my Coach of the Year.
You'll find him in Baton Rouge.
Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.