The Freshman 15: Jameis Winston, Auburn’s Miracle Run, Johnny Football, and Laval’s Rouge et Or

College football fans, let’s reflect.

Let’s reflect on Monday night and the sort of nail-biting, end-to-end national championship we should always hope to see. There were comebacks, awkward fumble things, quarterbacks darting out of pockets and tossing perfect passes, a Heisman trophy finalists and winners doing everything we hoped they could, and doing it on the country’s brightest stage.

Let’s reflect on the tragedy of Tre Mason, who totalled 195 yards rushing against the best team in the country, but did so in a heartbreaking, losing effort.

Let’s reflect on the glory of Jameis Winston, who overcame a disastrous and often humiliating first half to lead his Seminoles with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes.

Sure, he’s faced criminal allegations, and they could even be true. He’s far from perfect, and he loves the sound of his own voice. But he owns a Heisman and – now – a national championship. That deserves some respect, you’d suppose. And he’s only a freshman. A rookie. A teenage gun slinger that just won the OK Corral.

Let’s reflect on Johnny Manziel, the reigning MVP who just closed the curtains on (what may be) the greatest college career ever, who dipped and dodged his way to a gigantic comeback just a week ago and who does and something new like it, seemingly every week:

Let’s reflect on the incredibly efficient Alabama Crimson Tide, their coach Nick Saban, and their quarterback AJ McCarron. They may not have won a Bowl this year, but let’s not let one hardware-less campaign tarnish their dominance or their pace-setting in the now-legendary SEC.

Let’s reflect on those who deserved better while the BCS was still alive: Michigan State, Oklahoma, Clemson, and (once upon a time) Ohio State and Oregon. Stanford, even. What about Mizzou?

And Auburn, for sure. That miracle-working team that played well enough to win a national championship tonight, until Florida State finally played well enough on their own.

Let’s reflect on the BCS, of course. It’s dead. The playoffs are coming. We don’t have to hate the system anymore. Crocodile tears, spilled milk, n’ all that.

And let’s reflect – as Canadians – on another terrific year for our own game.

Let’s give credit where it’s due, to the Laval Rouge et Or, our version of Alabama. The Canadian college equivalent of the San Antonio Spurs. The best team in Quebec for a very long time now, including the Alouettes, Canadiens, and even the Bloc.

Let’s mourn for the Calgary Dinos, my Western Mustangs, and every other undergraduate group of pigskin tossers that threw forth a valiant effort in 2013.

Let’s celebrate college football for what it is, which is a terrific exhibition of skill and love for a game that gets all too serious as soon as it’s over.