As it stands, Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish don't need much help with recruiting, but if they beat Alabama and win the National Championship this season, that would have an impact far beyond this recruiting cycle.
2013 has been a great recruiting cycle for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame's 2013 class is currently ranked No. 2 overall by Rivals.com and it features two 5-star recruits in outside linebacker Jaylon Smith and running back Greg Bryant.
Kelly has done an excellent job building the program up into a legitimate contender, and it's hard to argue with the success Notre Dame had in 2012. The Fighting Irish went 12-0 during the 2012 regular season, and that includes wins over Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC. Notre Dame also boasts arguably one of the best defenses in the nation—ranked No. 1 in college football, only giving up 10.3 points per game.
There's also the No. 1 BCS ranking to consider, but by now I think I've made my point.
How would beating Alabama in the National Championship game impact Notre Dame recruiting then if the program already has so much going for it?
It comes down to one word for the Fighting Irish: legitimacy.
Believe it or not, there are still people who don't believe Notre Dame is a legitimate contender, and many are predicting the Fighting Irish to be in for quite a surprise when they go up against the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide of the powerful SEC.
While Alabama is certainly not a team to take lightly, to say that Notre Dame can't compete with or even beat the Crimson Tide is shortsighted to say the least.
By beating Alabama, Notre Dame can prove to the college football world, and to other recruits, that it is indeed a legitimate contender. Perhaps more importantly, it would go a long way towards dispelling the prevailing thought that elite recruits must choose the SEC if they want to win championships.
That in itself can pay divided for the future of Notre Dame recruiting.
High school football players around the country will be tuning in to watch this matchup. Can you imagine the long-term impact watching Notre Dame "upset" Alabama would have?
There's also the major prestige boost a National Championship would give coach Kelly. So often in recruiting, we talk about coaches like Nick Saban and Urban Meyer and how their championship experience gives them an edge on the recruiting trail.
As of now, that's not an edge that Kelly possesses, but if he can beat a coach like Saban and get that championship under his belt, that plus the natural allure of Notre Dame football could set Kelly up to be quite a consistent force in the realm of recruiting.
The long-term impact of a championship would be huge, but there's also the rest of the 2013 cycle to take into account as well.
With elite players like 5-star safety Max Redfield, 4-star running back Tarean Folston, 4-star cornerback L.J. Moore and 4-star defensive end Alquadin Muhammad all with Notre Dame high on their respective interests lists, a National Championship could be the factor that puts Kelly's program over the top for their commitments. Notre Dame has proven that it doesn't necessarily need the help on the recruiting trail, but I can't imagine it would turn it down either.
All-in-all, it can't be overstated how important winning the National Championship would be for Notre Dame recruiting.
It establishes legitimacy, it gives coach Kelly some major credibility, it could greatly impact Notre Dame's standing with future recruits, and it may help seal the deal with some current recruits.
The impact of winning this game would be huge.
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