1. First, Alabama strips Notre Dame of any idea that the Fighting Irish had returned to dominance. Second, head coach Brian Kelly drew on the reserve of goodwill he created this season by reportedly interviewing with the Philadelphia Eagles three days after declaring “I’ve got the best job in the country.” Coaches don’t leave Notre Dame for the NFL. They leave the NFL for Notre Dame (Dan Devine in 1975; Joe Kuharich in 1959). On the road to rediscovering their historical magic, the Irish take two steps forward, one step back.
2. If you needed any reminder that Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof was a fish out of water, check out the pickup truck parked outside the Lasch Football Building with the Alabama license plate. Roof, who came to Penn State from Auburn, has coached at a southern school for 21 of his 26 seasons in college football. His parents and his in-laws still live down there, which is why he leapt at the opportunity to return to Georgia Tech, his alma mater, as defensive coordinator. His close friend, Nittany Lion head coach Bill O’Brien, will miss him.
3. That’s five SEC schools among the top nine in the final AP poll and seven southern schools in the top 11. We have been taught that football is a cyclical sport, that offense dominates, then defense; that rivalries go to and fro depending upon the coaches at the respective schools. But it’s difficult to imagine what will change the shift in power to the schools in the nation’s sun belt. That’s where people live now. When you add the emphasis on speed, and the ability of southern kids to play all year in warm weather, this is a cycle that will turn very slowly.