Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission says it was responsibility to make this event happen. And it’s his mission to do it again.
“We’re gonna bid the very first opportunity we have,” Higgins said. “We want a long-term relationship with this event. Just in the small amount of time that we’ve had with the event this week, I think you can tell that our community loves it. You can tell that our community’s wrapped its arms around it. We’ll stop at nothing to try and be a two-time host.”
They weren’t the first hosts, but they’re putting up a helluva argument to be the first to do it twice.
An unprecedented national championship game rematch, the Clemson Tigers claimed the program’s first national title in 35 years, defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide, 35-31, in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.
Heisman finalist and junior quarterback Deshaun Watson broke his own passing record in a national championship game with 420 yards. Watson was responsible for four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, and was named Offensive Player of the Game.
Clemson’s defense, helped by Defensive Player of the Game Ben Boulware, held Alabama’s offense to a season-low 376 yards, and a 2-of-15 performance on third downs.
After rallying from an early 14-0 deficit, it was Clemson’s offense that prevailed, putting up 21 points in the fourth quarter. The lead changed hands three times in the fourth, with Clemson scoring the game-winning touchdown with one second left in the game.
The Clemson Tigers celebrated the program’s first national title since 1981, snapping Alabama’s 26-game win streak in the process.