STARKVILLE, Miss. -- College football's perfect storm has passed. The circumstances that produced a perfect ending to the 2005 season: gorgeous Pasadena setting collision of two storied programs riding long win streaks unmatched star power with two Heisman winners and a Heisman-worthy runner-up one coach on the brink of a modern dynasty, the other within grasp of that first, elusive title. Good stuff, wasn't it?
Then, the impossible happened: The game exceeded the hype. It seems like about 15 minutes ago I was standing on the confetti-strewn Rose Bowl field in the damp Pasadena night. I walked out of the stadium energized by what I'd witnessed, but also wistful. A little sad, even. An era had passed. We won't see something quite that special on a stage that spectacular again. At least not for a while.
Or will we? Optimists might say that in the remote Arizona desert setting of Glendale, in a space-age stadium with a grass field that slides in and out on rails, a week after New Year's Day 2007, we'll have another classic that will transcend the sport and again become the most talked about sporting event on the American sports landscape. I'm not that optimistic.