Alabama Crimson Tide Wrangles Texas Longhorns
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
The University of Alabama won college football's national championship game last night. Alabama went into it ranked number one. It beat number two-ranked Texas 37 to 21 to clench the BCS Championship. It's Alabama's first title since 1992, and it didn't come easy. NPR's Tom Goldman has more.
TOM GOLDMAN: In this battle of two storied college football programs with two storied football slogans, it was hook 'em horns of Texas that first resounded throughout the Rose Bowl.
Texas was on the move early, passing and running well against Alabama's vaunted defense. To get a feel for the section of the Rose Bowl dressed in Texas burnt orange, I called NPR correspondent Wade Goodwyn, Texas class of '82. His wife had bought him a ticket - nice wife - as a birthday present.
WADE GOODWYN: Even though they said they didn't think we'd be able to run on Alabama, it looks like we're going to be able to run on Alabama - at least early.
GOLDMAN: The excitement of the moment masked the concern by Wade and other Texas fans about their star quarterback, Colt McCoy. On the Longhorn's fifth offensive play of the game, McCoy left with an injured right shoulder. The hit that sent him to the sidelines didn't look that bad. Surely, he'd be back.
But he never returned, and as the second quarter began, roll tide roll became the slogan of the night.
Unidentified Man: Ingram gets the handoff left, into the end zone, touchdown, Alabama.
GOLDMAN: Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram rumbled into the end zone for Alabama's first points of the game, as heard here on ESPN radio. They were the first points of many. Alabama led 24-6 at half time. Texas was reeling with a very green freshman quarterback, Garrett Gilbert, at the helm. Longhorns head coach Mac Brown.
Mr. MAC BROWN (Head football coach, Texas Longhorns): You know, here's a guy on the sidelines standing there cold as could be, and all the sudden in the National Championship game you say, OK son, you got it. So I can't even imagine.
GOLDMAN: Brown says he told Gilbert, you're a good player. It's a hard learning curve, and you've got to learn fast. And wouldn't you know it, in the second half, Gilbert fired a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Shipley. Then in the fourth quarter, this...
Unidentified Man: (unintelligible) Shipley's open - touchdown Texas. Wow. He got wide-open, down the right side.
GOLDMAN: The 28-yard TD pass to Shipley and a two-point conversion made the score 24 to 21. Suddenly, a great game - just as suddenly, over. Gilbert's magic ran out when he fumbled after getting blasted by an Alabama defender. A few plays later, Ingram put the game out of reach with his second touchdown run. Time expired, Alabama was crowned BCS Champion, and watching in Texas, Joe Barton wondered what could have been - not because he's a Texas fan, but because Congressman Joe Barton has lead the charge for a playoff system in college football.
Representative JOE BARTON (Republican, Texas): The way both Texas and Alabama played tonight, you'd have to say Florida would have given either one of these teams a pretty good game. I think Boise State would have - maybe Ohio State. I mean, you know? If you decided on an open playoff system, it'd be a truer test.
GOLDMAN: The man who's in charge of the current system, BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock, said before the game, the BCS is not completely popular, but I believe in it. Today, a bunch of people wearing Alabama crimson couldn't agree more.
Tom Goldman, NPR News.