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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ George Schroeder and Paul Myerberg look to the national championship.
USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA — Typically, after the title has been secured and the confetti cleaned up, after promises of visiting Disney World and maybe the White House, newly anointed championship teams all do the same thing, an action famously described by one of the world’s biggest pop stars:

They put a ring on it. 

There’s nothing like a big, glittering reminder of a season that ended exactly the way you wanted. But coaches will tell anyone within shouting distance that championships are a product not just of great players and assistants, but student managers, video guys and academic advisers. It’s a championship operation from top to bottom, right down to the janitor who cleans the football building each night. 

This begs a question either Alabama or Georgia will wrestle with starting Tuesday: If you win a ring who, exactly, gets the bling?

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione was ready to answer this should the Sooners have won the 2018 championship. In 19 years at OU, Castiglione has seen Sooner teams win 17 national titles, probably none bigger than the BCS national championship in 2000, coach Bob Stoops’ second season. When the Sooners celebrated that title, Stoops and Castiglione passed out rings to a variety of support staff members because they believed, for example, that tremendous work by the head of field maintenance led to tremendous on-field results. 

“Some of our support staff who had been there 20 or 30 years, we gave them (rings) and they absolutely broke down, they felt so appreciated and so valued — and that’s important,” Castiglione told USA TODAY Sports at the Rose Bowl semifinal. “It’s a grind. There are a lot of years where you work exceedingly hard and it doesn’t end the way you had hoped, but you keep fighting and doing the right things. So when (winning a championship) does happen, you want to make sure everyone feels like a part of it.

“It’s not like we’re just passing them out but if you had a role, a ring symbolizes that your extraordinary efforts meant something. We know that support staff treasure that — and you never know if it’s going to happen again.” 

Underneath Playoff glitz, a warning: College football could be headed…