“And for the 12th time, Notre Dame reigns over the college football world!” As an Irish fan of a decade and counting, I have not wanted to hear any other words. This Monday night, those words could be coming out of the mouth of Brent Musburger (he and Kirk Herbstreit will be calling the action). But if the Irish do the unthinkable and upset the mighty SEC and its most dominant program, then what happens?
The Alabama Crimson Tide have been labeled by most as the most dominant and complete team in all of college football for the past four to five seasons. Their head coach is seen by all as the best coach in the country. The Tide are seeking their third title in the last four seasons. The big question for the past forty days has been; can the Irish beat Alabama? A bigger question that hardly anyone has mentioned: if the Irish beat the Tide, then what?
Notre Dame has the #2 ranked recruiting class in 2013 (behind of course, Alabama), and are still in the hunt to bring a couple big names to South Bend next season. Brian Kelly is 28-10 after three regular seasons. He’s bringing Notre Dame back to that “elite program” status and the echoes are starting to wake. Obviously a win Monday will help. But with a move to the ACC approaching (which will bring 5 ACC opponents to the schedule annually), and rumors of Bob Diaco leaving the program after this season, the question isn’t just can the Irish win Monday, but can they compete to defend their crown in the years ahead?
Next year’s schedule includes trips to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines, East Lansing to meet the Michigan State Spartans, and the Rose Bowl Champions, the Stanford Cardinal. The Irish have home matchups with the Oklahoma Sooners, USC Trojans and their annual neutral-site “Shamrock Series” match-up, which is with the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Whether the Irish win or lose Monday night, the future does have a bright outlook. But with all teams, some question marks will show their faces and for myself personally, I want to see how Brian Kelly reacts to those question marks and see if he can turn them into exclamation points. It would be nice if he could start addressing those question marks with Notre Dame’s 12th championship Monday night.