In today’s college football, not all the news is positive or heartwarming—and you’re very aware of this by now. Frankly, I’ve spent a great deal of the past year at Bleacher Report hitting on topics I’d much rather shy away from.
Since the last crystal football was handed out, we’ve talked suspensions, drugs, Penn State, realignment, sanctions, more realignment, more suspensions, playoffs, television contracts, future sanctions, money, even more realignment and the strange and bizarre coaching carousel that centers around—you guessed it—status and money.
As much as I love college football—and there is absolutely nothing that approaches in my completely unbiased opinion—our fandom has been tested in a variety of ways. On the field, it needs no defending. Behind the curtain, however, is where we have cause to pause and reflect most.
What happens on the field makes it all worth it. And when we get a moment of this magnitude, we need to appreciate it for being more than your average game. This is why we put up with it all, because we know the end result is worth it.
Alabama and Notre Dame, with everything on the line, is most certainly worth it.
It’s a strange and familiar moment. Regardless of who wins Monday night’s massive tussle, the clock will be against us. You won’t be thinking about it while completely and utterly engaged, but time will be ticking away. Time, after all, is always against us.
It will be against either Alabama or Notre Dame as well, and the anxiousness of the biggest college football game of our lifetime will carry from the field to your living room. I’m already anxious, eager, and I felt a nervousness surrounding this game before it was official.
Make no mistake about it: I have no dog in this fight. It’s the kind of nervousness that you can’t quite identify, but you can sense. It’s a nervous twitch, and I’m looking at my watch, counting down the hours. It should also be noted that I don’t wear a watch. Yep, those kinds of nerves.
It’s that same kind of anxiety you get before a big event with mixed expectations surrounding what you’re about to experience. What we’re about to experience is two of the game’s most polarizing football teams (and fanbases) clashing in a game surrounded by zero debate if they belong: Notre Dame is No. 1; Alabama is No. 2. So much history, so much now.
I have talked about how college football needed this game as the regular season wound down. I flew down to Miami to break it down with our fantastic football coverage crew at Bleacher Report, soaking in the quiet scene before the madness. I looked at the game’s biggest X-factor, wondering what we could expect from the great unknown. I also made my prediction, using what I’ve learned in the past few months, trying to put the pieces together on how this will all unfold.
I’ve tried to break this game down from every angle I could think of, using every moment of the excruciating 40-day break to dissect this year’s BCS Championship Game. And now that it’s finally here, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it. I’m going to soak in every moment as a fanatic of the game because these moments don’t come around often.
The how, why and what it means will be explained at length after a new champion is crowned. Before I get there, however, I’m going to celebrate this game for exactly what it is.
Whether you love Notre Dame, hate Notre Dame, love Alabama, hate Alabama or despise them both, you will tune in. You will put your hard feelings aside—or at least you should—and recognize the history involved and at stake. If you do have a dog in this fight, there’s no need to lecture you on its importance.
Forget about the rest of your college football frustrations, the items that will surface soon enough and plague your offseason. Put aside your angst for one night and absorb the sights, sounds and happenings.
This is the last actual game you’ll see live until next fall. The darkness and unknown of the offseason await, and time will prevail once again. It’s impossible to know what’s ahead and what storylines may greet us on the other side, but we’ll embrace this matchup between two epic programs before we get there.
There are no guarantees that this will be a close game or one that can possibly match the unparalleled hype that has been building since long before the season ended. I hope it does, and I hope the legend of this game carries us through the next couple of months and into next season.
Regardless, the anxiety and anticipation will eventually give way to the game itself, and because the season has to end, I see no better way to end it.
Let’s do this.