Alabama won another national title Monday, beating Georgia 26-23 in overtime, but there was at least one part of the game Tide fans would probably like to forget. In the third quarter, Tide linebacker Mekhi Brown punched Georgia’s Wyatt Payne and then went after an Alabama staff member on the sideline.
Brown, though, was not ejected from the game – neither by the officials, nor by Nick Saban.
“Well, let’s face it: Nick Saban’s loyalty has always been to winning,” Yahoo! Sports college football reporter Pete Thamel said on The DA Show. “If you look at what happened to the tackle two years ago who got caught with the gun and the charges got dropped, his loyalty has always been to winning. That’s what’s driven his process more than anything. So rolling in an inexperienced guy on special teams at that point in that game was probably a bigger risk than Brown running down again.”
Brown remained on Alabama’s coverage team and later tackled Sony Michel by the neck.
That was a heck of an awkward tackle that he did to Sony Michel,” Thamel said. “It looked like something out of the Ric Flair playbook. But it ended up being a big play in the game. It was a momentum play.”
Alabama trailed 13-0 at halftime, leading Saban to bench Jalen Hurts in favor of Tua Tagovailoa. The true freshman responded about as well as possible, throwing for 166 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
For a time, though, things looked dicey for Bama.
“It was surreal to see the undercurrent of uncertainty and chaos on the Alabama sideline,” Thamel said. “You don’t usually see something like that. Saban stayed above it all, stayed locked in, made the halftime adjustment of the generation, and the Tide ended up rolling.”
Georgia, meanwhile, is left to wonder what could have been. The Bulldogs had a few untimely turnovers and perhaps forced the issue with Nick Chubb, who rushed 18 times for 25 yards (1.4 yards per carry). Sony Michel, by comparison, rushed 14 times for 98 yards (7.0 yards per carry).
“I thought they did a poor job of recognizing that Sony Michel was having a lot more success than Nick Chubb,” Thamel said. “They ended up with a similar amount of carries, and (Michel was much more effective). So if I was going to criticize Jim Chaney for something, it was, ‘Hey, let’s ride the hot hand.’ And they played the change-of-pace back, (D’Andre) Swift, a bunch, too. I would have maybe nudged the ball to Sony Michel a little bit more. That would be my main criticism of how things unfolded for Georgia.”