Martin Fennelly Columns
With an Alabama or Notre Dame win, America loses
Wouldn't it be great if nobody won? That's what a lot of you are thinking, right? Alabama and Notre Dame play for the championship of college football Monday night, and who isn't trying to decide who not to root for more? You're seeing houndstooth leprechauns in your sleep because right now, every other college football program, including yours, is the wee people. You're remarkably miserable.Alabama and Notre Dame have more tradition than you can shake at a stick at, though you want to pick up the stick just the same. It's like a baseball game with the Yankees against the Yankees. Ever since St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland, to South Bend, and Momma called Bear Bryant home, these programs have been on a collision course even though they don't collide too often. Well, they can beat themselves senseless Monday, as far as you're concerned. It's Nay Alabama and Jeer, Jeer for old Notre Dame. Choose your poison: Do you want Touchdown Jesus on the revival tour or Little Nicky and the Elephants stampeding to dynasty? Do you want further SEC world domination or do you want to see how many more times Rudy can be on TV in our lifetime? I think I just heard an Alabama fan crow, 'Don't forget Forrest Gump !" I know that some of you prefer to bypass all the great Alabama and Notre Dame coaches and focus on Mike Price's bar tab and Gerry Faust's pink slip. You hate that mouth-breathing Alabama fan who poisoned Auburn's trees, and the Notre Dame snot who designed the "Catholics vs. Convicts" shirts for Miami games (now updated, for this game, to "Catholics vs. Cousins," if you get their Deliverance drift). Monday is a complete no-win situation. Who can stand Notre Dame's holier-than-thou routine? Then again, Alabama wins the tiebreaker, since men walked on the moon before African-Americans walked on the football fields in Tuscaloosa. And then there are those made-up Alabama and Notre Dame legends. Did you know that young Paul Bryant, when he wrestled that bear, did you know he hit the bear with a metal folding chair _ when the bear wasn't looking? Did you know that the "Four Horsemen of Notre Dame" preferred cabs? And here's the real conversation between Knute Rockne and George Gipp in the hospital: "George, about this bill, you're HMO, right?" "PPO, Rock." "What! This place isn't on your plan. We've got to get out of here." "Some day, Rock, when the breaks are beating the guys, and there's nothing left in their health savings account, tell them to win just one for the Gipper." "George, think you can walk?" It's so easy to hate Alabama and Notre Dame because there's so much to hate. I mean, it's all true. They really have won more national titles than anyone else. Bear was that good. Rockne was that good. Alabama's helmets with the numbers are that cool. Notre Dame really does graduate players. These football traditions really do roll like a tide and shake down the thunder. And when they last got together with the national championship on the line for both of them, it was the 1973 Sugar Bowl, one of the three or greatest bowl games ever played. Notre Dame was better by one whole point, 24-23. Someone had to win then and someone has to win now. You lose.