We're not all that different
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
It might pain some Alabama fans to hear this, but I look at the rebirth of both the Crimson Tide and the Fighting Irish this season, and I can't help but notice that there's a lot of similarities.
Both programs have had four coaches in the past five seasons. Each program had to fire one of those four before he even got a chance to coach a single game. Each program was declared all but dead three seasons ago, and each was accused of living on past glory while having nothing to show the "what have you done for me lately?" crowd.
Let's be honest here, as college football fans. The game is better when both Alabama and Notre Dame have competitive programs. These are teams that have a widespread fan base most schools can only dream of, and traditions wannabes like Virginia Tech ("Enter Sandman?" Please.) and Purdue ("We have a bigger drum than you!") can only hope to have someday.
Let's also be honest here. Both programs have had a little luck on their side in order to experience their rebirths this season.
Do you really think that Notre Dame would be 6-2 with Urban Meyer roaming its sidelines and trying to run the spread option with Brady Quinn? Do you think Alabama would be undefeated if He Who Must Not Be Named was still coaching the Tide rather than feeling the heat in College Station?
No, neither do I.
Do you remember those writers who crowed that HWMNBN's shunning of Alabama and Urban Liar's shunning of Notre Dame were signs that both programs were has-beens?
No, neither do I.
Remember all those prognosticators who were picking Notre Dame to possibly start 0-6 and for Alabama to finish behind Tennessee in the final SEC standings?
No, neither do I.
So, why all the success with Shula and Weis? I believe it comes down ultimately to the fact that Weis is a Notre Dame man and Shula is an Alabama man. With programs that have the tradition and following of these two powerhouses, it's extremely important to have a leader that understands that tradition.
Shula knows the constant pressure on Alabama's team to play well, since he once suited up in the crimson and white. Weis knows just how rabid Notre Dame's fanbase is, because he was once a member of the Irish student section.
Ty Willingham and HWMNBN never truly fully embraced their jobs – it was apparent from the beginning that Ty would rather be back in the Pac-10 (Defense? What defense?) and that HWMNBN was better suited where the stars at night are big and bright (clap clap clap clap).
Now that the reins of the two biggest college football coaching jobs are back in the safe hands of members of the Family, the sky seems to again be the limit for the Notre Dame and Alabama programs.
And that's the way it should be.
Now that I've sucked up to all my readers who are Alabama fans, it's time to get them angry again. Here's this week's picks.
LSU Tigers (7-1) at Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0): When I look at this game, I can't help but think back to my sophomore year in 2002. Notre Dame had a dominating defense and an anemic offense and was ranked No. 4 in the country with three games remaining. Then a semi-rival (Boston College) came into Notre Dame Stadium and took away all those positive vibes quicker than Ryan Grant could fumble a football. And if Alabama comes out wearing green jerseys Saturday, Tide fans should especially be worried…Tigers 27, Crimson Tide 24.
Auburn Tigers (7-2) at Georgia Bulldogs (7-1): Georgia looks like a different team without D.J. Shockley under center. Auburn's offense is clicking and is a far cry from the Brandon Cox frightfest against Georgia Tech. UGA is always tough between the hedges, but I see Auburn taking care of business and setting up an Iron Bowl that could potentially determine the SEC West champion…Tigers 21, Bulldogs 20.
Navy Midshipmen (5-3) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-2): The Middies have a great rushing attack, as always. Notre Dame has a great rushing defense, as always. This game has been close recently, but that was under the old coaching regime. Act Number One of the Brady Quinn Late Push for the Heisman starts off with a bang…Fighting Irish 45, Midshipmen 17.