By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
With the Christmas holiday in the rear view mirror, it will be back to work this weekend for the Notre Dame football team as the No. 1 Fighting Irish prepare for the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship Game against No. 2 Alabama.
Players were scheduled to return to campus today after the Christmas break.
The Irish will leave for Miami early Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 2 and are slated to arrive in Miami later that afternoon.
Practices are scheduled Jan. 3-5.
For some players with football in their genes — like graduate offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. — the national title game is a chance to do something their famous fathers never got to do.
Golic’s father, Mke Golic Sr., played in the NFL and is now a broadcaster for ESPN, half of the “Mike and Mike In The Morning” team on ESPN Radio.
The elder Golic is not jealous of his son, Golic Jr. said.
“He’s just excited, obviously never getting to experience this as a player on this end,” Golic Jr. said.
Golic Jr.’s uncle, Bob, was part of the 1977 national championship team.
Senior wide receiver John Goodman said he and his teammates are trying to find a balance between the hard work of getting ready for the game — and having fun while taking in the atmosphere surrounding the game.
“We haven’t been to this game before,” Goodman said.
“And none of us have experienced something this big in our lives. We have a chance, an opportunity, that us seniors will never get back.”
Taking full advantage of that opportunity, Goodman added, will mean facing a defense that’s very similar to that of the Irish.
“Their (Alabama’s) front seven is incredible, just like ours,” Goodman said.
“We compete against those guys every single day, and with a couple of weeks of practice to go, the confidence is there.”
For sophomore safety Matthias Farley, the key is in not letting excitement over just being in the game to overshadow the Irish’s main reason for going to Miami.
Winning the national championship.
“You have to channel that excitement, stay focused, while going to practice each and every day,” Farley said.
For head coach Brian Kelly, the last six weeks of preparation have been all about getting the Irish ready for this particular turn on the biggest stage in college football.
“There are a lot of pieces that go into that, and I think I it began for us with getting our football team back in the weight room and really looking at this as a preparation for a one game series,” Kelly said.
“That means our guys have to get back to conditioning element. We have to find our timing as it relates to practicing. And also be smart enough to know that we certainly want to peak at the right time. ... So a lot of our preparation leading up to today was the balancing of academics, athletics, conditioning, weight training, as we move forward.”