Archie Bunker always liked to say that what's good for General Motors is good for America.
Archie never seemed to be much of a college football fan — who in Queens is? — and even if he had been, he wouldn't have been a Notre Dame fan, for religious reasons.
But his GM theory applies to the Irish. What's good for Notre Dame is good for college football.
The Irish play Alabama on Monday night for the national championship in a sport that needs Notre Dame to be relevant. Needs Notre Dame to win, and not just to stem the SEC momentum of six straight Big Bowl victories.
College football needs Notre Dame the way baseball needs the Yankees and the NBA needs the Lakers.
Notre Dame draws in the undecided voter. A casual fan might not schedule around an Oklahoma-Southern Cal, a Florida-Ohio State, an Auburn-Oregon title game. But no casual fan channel surfs past Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish are college football's only national team. This is a provincial sport. Regional ties rule.
Oh, the Sooners of the ‘70s, Miami of the ‘80s, Florida State of the ‘90s, USC of the ‘00s all attracted fans from all over, mostly of the younger variety. But they were largely passing fads.
Notre Dame allegiance has staying power. Notre Dame passion — love or hate — is generational. Sorry, Dallas, but Notre Dame is America's Team. The Irish are no bigger in Indiana than they are in New Jersey or California. Subway Alumni, they are called. Irish loyalists who never have stepped foot in South Bend.
A Notre Dame game is something special, be it the Big Bowl or the Irish's October trip to Norman or even a nondescript home game during the Irish winter going back almost two decades. In 2010, when Tulsa upset Notre Dame, TU folks called it the biggest win in school history. That Irish team played in the Sun Bowl.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.