Morning links: Morgan Scalley is a genius, #Pac-12refs, Cottonwood High celebrates and more from the Alabama-Clemson game
Butch Dill, AP
The College Football Playoff National Championship Game between Alabama and Clemson featured two teams whose campuses are more than 1,500 miles from Utah, but a bevy of local connections played out on Twitter during the contest.
A look at five of them:
1. New Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley is a genius
Just a little more than 30 minutes before the game began, new Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley tweeted the following about special teams, which he coached for the Utes last season.
Something to keep an eye on in this NC Game: although Clemson ranked #1 in Off & Def in the ACC, they ranked dead last in Special Teams.— Morgan Scalley (@SafetyPride) January 12, 2016
Through the first 49 minutes of Monday's game, the tweet didn't hold much significance, and the score was knotted at 24 apiece.
Then the Crimson Tide successfully executed a surprise onside kick, which led to a touchdown, giving Nick Saban's team the 31-24 advantage.
After a Tigers field goal made it 31-27, special teams showed up again, as Alabama's Kenyan Drake returned the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, and Clemson couldn't rally back from there.
Following the two plays, Utah kicker Andy Phillips summarized what was happening with this tweet:
Special teams wins games!— Andy Phillips (@AndyDPhillips) January 12, 2016
2. Locals chide Pac-12 officiating crew
For a few years now, Pac-12 game officials have been the target of a great deal of deserved criticism from the Twitterverse, with #Pac12Refs becoming a popular hashtag on the social media site.
With a crew from the conference officiating Monday's game, many were nervous there would be some questionable calls that could shape the contest's outcome.
While there was nothing that ended up being of too much significance on the zebra front, there were two instances that caught the ire of folks who are all too familiar with Pac-12 refs.
The first came right before halftime, as the Tigers got a first down but the clock didn't stop, forcing Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to call a timeout. The Tigers didn't score on the drive.
Dabo, welcome to the #Pac12refs experience.— Blair Angulo (@bangulo) January 12, 2016
Clemson gonna lose by 3 now after getting jobbed at the end of the half. #pac12refs— Coach Amicone (@TrevorAmicone) January 12, 2016
In the fourth quarter, Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry appeared to cross the goal line for a touchdown, but it took the officials a good bit of time to decide, and then they reviewed the play.
Pac-12 refs!!— Sam Strong (@SamStrong) January 12, 2016
TD? Don't do this PAC 12 refs— Greg Biggins (@GregBiggins) January 12, 2016
3. Cottonwood High alum Cooper Bateman wins title
One player from the Beehive State was part of Monday's game, as Cottonwood High School alum Cooper Bateman served as Alabama's backup quarterback, and multiple locals on Twitter noted the connection: