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Notre Dame in the big bowl is healthy for college football

College football needs Notre Dame the way baseball needs the Yankees and the NBA needs the Lakers.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 6, 2013
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photo - CELEBRATION: Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese (44) celebrates after the college football game where the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) were defeated by the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (ND) 30-13 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
CELEBRATION: Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese (44) celebrates after the college football game where the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) were defeated by the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (ND) 30-13 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

College football has needed an Irish renaissance. Notre Dame brings more East Coast eyeballs and a stately name and provides the sport a fresh villain, which is a rare creature indeed.

Notre Dame limping along Sunset Boulevard, scratching to find a glimmer of its former glory, has been a blessing for those who long have resented the Irish, either for their monumental victories (over OU, for example) or their special treatment (specific BCS rules), their own NBC contract or their Lindsay Nelson replay show from 50 years ago.

But enough is enough. The Irish have paid their penance. In the 11 seasons before Brian Kelly's 2010 arrival, Notre Dame had only five winning seasons.

Tough academic standards. A coaching carousel. A general shift in college football dominance to the South. Societal changes that tradition matter little to most recruits. Lots of reasons to wonder if Notre Dame could get back to relevancy.

The Irish haven't finished in the coaches-poll top 10 since 1993 and had reached a BCS-level bowl only thrice since the 1995 season.

But now Notre Dame is in the Big Bowl. Hard to imagine anything better for the health of college football, unless it's a Big Bowl victory.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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