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BREAKING NEWS

Our Lady of Victory took the night off

I was eight-years old the last time the Notre Dame Fighting Irish won a national title. Not nearly old enough to appreciate the championships I’ve seen my favorite teams win since I’ve gotten older.

On Monday night, the 37-day wait to watch the Irish play the Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS title game came to an end. It was the longest I had ever had to wait to watch a team I’ve followed since I was old enough to know what sports were. Anxious, nervous and excited were some obvious emotions encountered. Astounded was another one.

Notre Dame, for the last 24 years had been steeped in mediocrity. There were years where they had some relative success, finishing No. 2 in the AP Poll in 1989 and 1993, and fourth in 1992. But this season, the Irish finally broke through under head coach Brian Kelly, who was looking to become yet another Notre Dame head coach to win a championship in his third season, joining Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz in that feat.

I, like most Notre Dame fans, stuck with the team through thick and thin. Through Ron Powlus, Matt Lovecchio, and Bob Davie, Carlyle Holiday and Tyrone Willingham, and of course the 3-9, Charlie Weiss-led 2007 campaign.

Unlike my grandfather, Charles Graves, Sr., I didn’t grow up watching Knute Rockne and the Four Horsemen, who he would tell me about any time I stopped over to watch the Irish play.

“These guys today, they’re not football players,” he would say. “Harry Stulhdreher, Elmer Layden, Jim Crowley, Don Miller … Those were football players.”

Who could argue? Quarterback Stuhldreher, halfbacks Miller and Crowley and fullback Layden helped the Irish to a 27-2 record from 1922-24. Notre Dame has won 28 games since Kelly took over, but they’ve also lost 11 games. Obviously the game was much different then, but he still had the chance to witness something great.

As Notre Dame’s 2012 season rolled on, and they kept winning game after game, beating three ranked opponents, I still had some doubt. Then, on Oct. 27, they went to Norman, Okla. and beat then No. 8 Oklahoma, 30-13, casting away any of the doubt I had about the Irish.

For the last five weeks, I poured over Notre Dame and Alabama’s records, and stats, building my argument, so that if anyone asked, I could give them well prepared reasons why the Irish could win Monday night’s National Championship game.

I thought the offense just needed to show up and put some points on the board, letting the defense, which had led the Irish all season, be the key to victory.

And then, on Monday, at 8:53 p.m., the inevitable that most Alabama supporters had spoke of, the one I had tried so hard to ignore, became reality.

Notre Dame, although it had earned its way to the No. 1 ranking, and its shot at the title, had no business being on the field with mighty Alabama, which came into the game winning two of the last three BCS titles.

The Irish defense that had been so dominant for the entire season was overwhelmed with the shear size and talent that was the Crimson Tide’s offense rolling past them and into the end zone.

There would be no luck of the Irish, Monday night in Miami Gardens, Fla., nor no echoes stirred. Our Lady of Victory took the night off, leaving ‘Our Mother’ to be sung another night.

Gib Snyder III is an OBSERVER?sports reporter. Send comments to sports@observertoday.com.