If there was one single most remarkable thing about the Sugar Bowl -- including Tim Tebow's performance in it -- it was the sense of free-wheeling joy that the team played with.
Compare that with the burden of perfection that Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer and the entire team was under from the day that Tebow announced he was returning for his senior year, onward.
"Championship or Failure" was the operating principle -- I was no small proponent and propagator of it.
At its best, it represented to me the extremely rare chance for a singularly great team to fulfill its potential.
At its worst, the mindset stripped all the joy from the season -- every week was "win or else." I really didn't care about how they did it, except as an indicator of their chance of winning again.
But you could see the pressure of "Title or Bust" wear on the team. It wore on the fans. It wore on the media. It obviously wore on Urban Meyer. It wore on Tim Tebow.
It is totally reasonable for Tebow to say that the season was "about relationships, not championships," but there is a reason he was crying on the sidelines in Atlanta.
Those tears -- combined with Meyer's health issues -- were the byproduct of "Title or Fail."
Then consider its antecedents, its antidotes: Start with the Swamp finale. Bookend that with the Sugar Bowl. You saw the joy again.
Not winning the national championship was a huge disappointment -- as superior as Alabama appeared to be, I will always consider the season to be one of unfulfilled potential.
If nothing but a national championship would be sufficient, then we all -- Tebow, Meyer, fans, media -- got the next-best thing in the Sugar Bowl:
We saw Tebow playing with joy. We saw his teammates playing with joy. We saw fans celebrating with joy.
It's not an insubstantial thing, and as I think about the lessons from this year, it isn't a bad one to walk away with.