Cirminiello: It was over after the 1st drive
Posted Jan 8, 2013

Rich Cirminiello's thoughts on Alabama's BCS championship win over Notre Dame

Richard Cirminiello

It was over after the first drive of the game. When Alabama drove 82 yards to start the game, you could almost tell that this was going to be an uh-oh moment. For the first time all season, Notre Dame looked meek on defense, which would go on to be a trend throughout the night.

If the Heisman vote was tallied today, Johnny Manziel would win by the largest margin in the history of the award. Not only was he otherworldly in the Cotton Bowl, but he was the guy who helped hand the Tide its only loss of the season. Oh, and finalists Manti Te'o and Collin Klein were rather ordinary in their bowl games.

The SEC is just fine after all. There was a lot of hand-wringing regarding the league's postseason performance, especially after Florida flopped in the Sugar Bowl, but it wound up 6-3 in the bowls … capped by a seventh straight BCS bowl championship. Detractors can lay off the conference for a while.

Frightening thought of the evening: Had it not been for Tattoogate, it's entirely possible that Alabama would not have even qualified for this game. Going forward, let's all live under the notion that a one-loss SEC champ pretty much always trumps an unbeaten team from a lesser league.

Only on a Nick Saban-coached team would you see the kind of intensity that ‘Bama showed, when it was up four touchdowns in the final quarter. AJ McCarron and Barrett Jones got in a shouting match, with the center shoving his quarterback on the field. You have to love that passion even when the game was out of reach.

Jones, by the way, has to be considered one of the most decorated players in the sport's history. He's been a part of three national title teams, excelling both on the field and in the classroom. The fact that he played three different positions along the line in those wins is one of the game's most remarkable achievements.

Few schools regroup at running back better than the Tide. Mark Ingram. Trent Richardson. Eddie Lacy. T.J. Yeldon. Lacy was brilliant against the Notre Dame front seven, showing incredible power and agility, a set of skills that will serve him well on Sundays.

It's sort of spot-on, but is worth repeating. Now that Saban is 8-1 in championship games, both league and BCS, he's on the verge of entering the pantheon of the best big-game coaches in the history of college football.

When Notre Dame scored late in the third quarter, it snapped an amazing streak of 107 consecutive minutes without allowing a point in a BCS National Championship Game. Kudos to Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart for never wasting a minute during the preparation process. Doug Nussmeier called a pretty terrific game on offense as well.

Brutal loss for the Irish. But don't expect it to impede Brian Kelly's progress in South Bend. The exposure alone in a title game will help immensely as the staff continues to improve the overall talent level at Notre Dame.