You can say what you want about 2016, which beloved celebrity died or whether the winner of the election was beloved or not. But in the middle of all those minor distractions — life and death and the future of this country — college football had a banner year.
For fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide — and for “the Bama fan on the couch” — it’s been exceptional.
For the unfamiliar, the narrative goes something like this: Alabama is 14-0 and the Crimson Tide will play Clemson in the national championship game Monday night in Tampa, Florida. All this, by the way, with Jalen Hurts, an 18-year-old true freshman quarterback.
Among all that, Birmingham-based comic Jermaine “Funnymaine” Johnson, aka “The Bama fan on the couch,” became almost a household name. You may have heard of him. Although Johnson has been doing his standup and internet comedy for years, he has become a viral sensation with his videos, “How Alabama fans watched…,” a Facebook series where he discusses the Alabama football game of the week.
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“Man, I played a show in Biloxi earlier this year,” Johnson said in a phone interview. “But I wasn’t as popular as I am now — I played a casino and I think about 10 people came.”
You can bet dollars to donuts that Johnson won’t be playing empty rooms wherever he performs these days. He is, after all, the man who coined the phrase all of us Bama fans were thinking (and screaming) — “run da bawl.” As in, “run the ball (former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin). Run the (d---) bawl.”
Well, the big story this week is that Kiffin is out — one week before the national championship game.
I’m not mad about the decision. I trust (Alabama coach) Nick Saban and for him to pull the trigger on the decision like that at a time like that, it lets me know that he has a plan A, B and C in place. He’s all about everybody being focused on the task at hand and I don’t think Lane was in that mode and decisions had to be made. I trust Saban’s decision and I know they’ll be ready come Monday night.
For me, I think the breaking point may have been Kiffin’s interview with Sports Illustrated. It was a bad look for Kiffin.
His resume over the last three years speaks for itself. But I think as long as he was under wraps and being quiet, it seemed to be working. But then the old Lane showed up. That’s the reputation he had leaving the Oakland Raiders, USC and Tennessee. When he thinks he’s in power, he becomes his old self and he has that same self-destructive behavior. He’s immature.
What are your thoughts about Monday’s game? Can the Tide do it again?
If I’m being honest, I’m 50/50 on it. My eyes will be locked in on Clemson’s offensive line versus Alabama’s defensive line. I think that’s where the game is going to be won and lost. If they can’t get to Deshaun Watson and he can throw it around and run, it could be a long day for Bama. But history has shown that it hasn’t happened against these guys. I think the defense will have a plan in play for Clemson and I think the offense will want to silence all of the doubters with this Kiffin stuff. They definitely want to have a better offensive showing than they did against Washington. It’s going to be a hard-fought game.
If Clemson plans on playing on emotion against Alabama, they need to get over that. There will be some opposition.
You’ve been doing pretty well this football season and doing some high-profile gigs. Have you been out to the lake house with Coach and Mrs. Terry?
If I had to guess, I don’t think Coach Saban knows I exist. That would be my first guess. But (running backs coach) Burton Burns and his wife have reached out to me and they have been nothing but nice. They’ve hooked me up with some sideline passes for the Iron Bowl. Some of the former players — Reggie Ragland, Rashad Johnson, Blake Sims and Marcell Dareus — they’ve all reached out and said they enjoy the videos, but I’m not sure that Coach Saban has checked them out yet. He doesn’t seem like he would like a little nonathletic guy on the couch critiquing him and his decisions.