Irish set to battle Alabama for national championship

2013-01-06T19:00:00Z 2013-01-07T17:29:07Z Irish set to battle Alabama for national championshipBy BOB WIENEKE South Bend Tribune nwitimes.com
January 06, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. | On the day before the biggest day of his football coaching life, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly professionally navigated a press conference in which photographers jostled for position to take his picture in front of the national championship trophy, a cell phone provided a few seconds worth of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and Kelly essentially was asked about the role luck has played for his top-ranked and 12-0 football team.

Which means this: It’s time for Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game against Alabama to hurry up and get here. The success of ND’s football team also means it’s time for contract talk. And with Kelly-to-the-NFL rumors floating, that too should soon happen.

“I’m really confident that Brian has enjoyed his experience at Notre Dame, and when we’re past tomorrow we’ll sit down and talk about securing that future,” ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Sunday. “We love having him and he loves being at Notre Dame.” Kelly on Saturday was asked if there’s a desire for him to coach in the NFL. He didn’t completely dismiss the possibility, but he also pointed out what he said when he took the job in December, 2009.

“When I took the job at Notre Dame, I think I said it was a dream job,” Kelly said. “I think from my perspective I’ve got the best job in the country — NFL, college, high school, whatever. I just look at the place that I’m at and thankful for the opportunity that I have.”

Swarbrick said that at the end of every season, he goes through a laundry list of inventory about the program, including contract talk.

“Everything that goes into the program,” Swarbrick said, “is on the table when we have those discussions.”

Wayyyy back

Alabama coach Nick Saban will be trying to win his fourth national championship Monday night, the others coming following the 2003, 2009 and 2011 seasons. What, he was asked, did he remember most about the

night before the 2003 title game.

“2003?” Saban quipped. “Wow, I was hoping you’d say last year and I might be able to remember.”

Not exactly a rookie

While Saban is a veteran of BCS championship games, Monday will be Kelly’s first. The third-year ND coach did, however, take Grand Valley State to two NCAA Division II titles. Like Saban, he was asked about what it’s like the night before a game.

“I think more than anything else, it’s the anticipation of the game because there’s such a lead-up for this one with all of the media attention, where at Grand Valley State, we were staying at the Best Western. I don’t know if anybody knew where we were,” he said.

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