National championship prediction: Time to crash the Irish bandwagon

nate blog

A pair of storied college football programs collide when Alabama and Notre Dame meet Monday in the BCS National Championship game, and there exists no shortage of opinions as to how the tussle will turn out.

I guess it’s the only way to pass the 40-plus days between when the matchup is determined and when the game is at long last played.

Listening to people talk about the game, eavesdropping on conversations in public places, I get the impression a lot of people around here will be rooting for Notre Dame because they’ve grown tired of Alabama, and probably more broadly the Southeastern Conference, winning the national championship year-after-year.

“I’m just sick of Alabama,” I distinctly remember one man uttering to his buddy while my wife and I were waiting for a table at O’Charley’s restaurant a week or two back.

Count me among the dissents as there are multiple reasons both personal and practical why I hope Alabama beats Notre Dame 65-6 in the national championship.

My vindictive doesn’t have to make sense because the feeling’s born-from-fandom reason: An unbridled disdain for Irish Head Coach Brian Kelly.

My affinity for Cincinnati sports teams transcends the professional ranks and while I am first and foremost a Buckeye, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats are, “my second favorite team.”

I grew especially fond of the UC teams led by likable, gritty guys like Tony Pike, Zach Collaros, Isaiah Pead and Mardy Gilyard that emerged from what used to be at least a respectable Big East to play in BCS games in 2009 and 2010.

In January 2010, the undefeated 12-0 Bearcats were set to play Florida in the Orange Bowl — a game in which Kelly would not ultimately coach.

About three weeks before the game, following the team’s postseason banquet, Kelly broke the news to his players that he’d taken the Notre Dame job.

“He went for the money,” Gilyard was quoted telling the Associated Press the night word got out. The UC receiver went on to say that his former coach had spent the final two weeks of the season telling the team how much he loved it and how he never wanted to leave.

Kelly is hardly the first football coach to leave for greener pastures, but the way he went about resigning left a black mark on his entire tenure at Cincinnati.

These days, he’s generally reviled in Bearcat circles. I’m no different. I wish Brian Kelly nothing but professional misfortune and I hope he’s miserable Tuesday morning.

My more rational, practical reason for pulling for Alabama to win the championship is a bit more straightforward: They are far and away the better team.

Despite a Nov. 10 upset at the hands of Texas A&M, led by Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the Crimson Tide generally ran roughshod over its opponents.

Of Alabama’s 12 season wins, only two — against top-five competition — were decided by fewer than 19 points. The Tide’s defense pitched an incredible four shutouts and three other times held its opponent to 14 points or fewer.

Vegas has listed Alabama a nine-point favorite for the game — the second-widest spread in BCS National Championship history.

I want Alabama to win because they’re the better team. A desire to see the best team actually win the national championship has long been the foundation for basically any “college football needs a playoff system” argument since we started letting the computers pick the game 10 years ago.

The longevity this program has demonstrated since Nick Saban took over is impressive. Instead of lamenting ’Bama’s regular appearance in the national title game, we should look for ways to duplicate its success.

Ohio State Head Coach and two-time national champion Urban Meyer has shown he has the blueprints to duplicate Saban’s success. And if the Buckeyes ever play Alabama for a national championship, I’ll hope they win 65-6, whether or not they’re actually the best team.

Nate Smith is an 'Examiner' Staff Writer who would give Notre Dame nine points and still take Alabama Jan. 7, were betting legal, of course. He can be reached at, or on Twitter, @n8smithExaminer.