FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The anticipated BCS championship game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama is still a few days away, but at least the teams are on location.
The Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide arrived safely Wednesday afternoon, with Notre Dame touching down in Fort Lauderdale and the Tide in Miami. There were water cannon sprays over each team plane as part of the welcoming ceremonies, and the two head coaches held quick media briefings to preview Monday night's matchup at Sun Life Stadium.
"It's not like any trip our players have had before, and it's not like any trip I've had before," said Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, who is hoping to guide the Irish to their first national championship since 1988. "There was an anticipation when we got on the buses to the airport that they were really excited about this trip. It's something that you dream about when you play this game and when you coach this game.
"When we pulled up here, all the people looking out the windows were pretty much amazed to see what kind of draw this game has."
Kelly was named Wednesday morning as the Walter Camp coach of the year, an award that is selected by the 124 Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors.
Alabama, which is seeking its third BCS title in four seasons, was the second team to arrive after a morning workout in Tuscaloosa. Tide coach Nick Saban expressed his appreciation about being in Miami before fielding questions, a couple of which referenced his rocky departure from this area after a two-year stint with the NFL's Dolphins in 2005-06.
"I've made my comments about all that," Saban said. "We all learn things about ourselves, and there are some things we would all like to do differently. I don't think it's really worth analyzing what I would have done. I just think we all make mistakes, and sometimes we would like to do things differently.
"We don't get the opportunity to get it back, and we've said all we're going to say about it."
Crimson Tide senior center Barrett Jones said his foot feels fine and that he's "ready to roll." His younger brother, reserve tight end Harrison Jones, did not travel with the team due to an undisclosed medical reason but is scheduled to arrive today.
Reserve offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio, the older brother of Tide starting left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, had to be treated for dehydration as soon as the plane landed.
Monday's game will pair two programs that have each won eight Associated Press national championships, the most of any teams nationally. Notre Dame senior receiver Robby Toma framed it as "Rudy" versus "Forrest Gump."
There are entertainment activities scheduled for each team and media obligations as well, beginning with select members of Alabama's offense and Notre Dame's defense this morning.
"People ask me all the time if I get tired of playing in the national championship," Jones said. "Of course not."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...