ATLANTA—All my favorite axioms are dying, one by one, bit by bit, year by year.

I used to say, in basketball, with a three-point lead late, you always prevent a three-point shot by fouling your opponent.

Yet, coaches continue to mock me to my face. Former Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson was the worst.

I thought defense won Rose Bowl championships, yet watched the last two winners ALLOW nearly 100 combined points in glorious victory.

Monday night, though, in the College Football Playoff national title game, my ace-in-the-hole got buried six-feet-under.

This was a tough one and I’m not even sure how to explain it to my children.

You can’t win a national title with a true freshman quarterback. That’s what I always told the grocery boy and my mailman.

That clarion call, solid as a sunrise since 1985, is dead.

Monday night’s title game wasn’t just decided by a true freshman QB. It was going to be decided, either way, by a pencil neck.

Georgia was already starting Jake Fromm, a rookie from Warner Robbins, although he’d been the starter since taking over for injured Jacob Eason in the opener.

What Alabama did, though, defied everything thing I’d ever come to believe in. Down 13-0 at halftime, Coach Nick Saban benched sophomore Jalen Hurts and put the school’s fate in the hands of Tua Tagovailoa.

It was a preposterous (genius) notion.

Tagovailia was different than Fromm in that he literally had NO experience under pressure. He had played only mop-up duty in four SEC games that Alabama was leading 38-0, 38-3, 38-3 and 28-0.

Tua oozed talent and was already pushing Hurts for next year’s starting job. Tua is a dual-threat lefty, tops in his 2017 class, who attended the same Honolulu high school (Saint Louis) that produced Marcus Mariota. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.