Irish Lose to ‘Bama

Frankly, I’m stunned.

Anybody who watched the ‘Bama Crimson Tide roll completely over the ND Fighting Irish during last night’s BCS national championship game knows what I mean.

‘Bama, as usual, brought its “A” game. The Irish, sadly, failed to show up at all, leading to an ugly 42-14 trouncing.

The analysts and nay-sayers will have a field day with this one.

They’ll be quick to point out that the Irish — long a holdout on joining a football conference — didn’t face an opponent of merit all season long, thus earning them a perfect 12-0 season. But that disses the Irish’s worthy opponents, most of whom went on to post-season play, where many emerged victorious.

The pundits also will say the SEC has long been a dominant force in college football, and the Irish can’t compete with their size, conditioning, and power. But tell that to the Irish’s seven Heisman Trophy winners, 44 College Football Hall of Famers, 188 First-Team All-Americans, and 471 NFL draft picks (all figures which out-distance ‘Bama by a sizable margin).

In any competition, there’s a winner and there’s a loser (or rather, a non-winner). There are no losers on this Irish team.

They might have lost one football game (albeit an important one). They might have disappointed themselves and thousands of fans. They certainly put a black mark on their perfect record, having not lost a game since the 2011 bowl matchup against Florida State.

But they’re far from losers.

According to Forbes, just being in a BCS bowl game this season earns ND $6.2 million!

And ESPN statistics show the Irish graduate 97 percent of its football players, while the Tide’s graduation rate is 75 percent.

This football team, by any measurement, is special. They attend Mass on game days (and have since the 1920s or thereabouts). There’s a team prayer in the locker room before games. There’s genuine heart for helping others.

Eventually, the pain of not winning this one game will ease. Eventually, the Irish Nation will move forward, looking to a new season with hope and optimism. Eventually, this group of seniors will graduate, and many will move on to NFL or other professional careers.

But today, Irish eyes sure aren’t smiling.