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"Alabama versus the Fighting Irish in 2013" An APR 40th anniversary encore airing

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Pat Duggins
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Alabama Public Radio is turning forty years old. All year long the APR news team is diving into the archive to bring you the best of the best of our coverage. That includes this story from 2013. It’s a sign that old collaborations can become new again. APR and WVPE in Elkhart, Indiana are taking part in digital news training through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But, that’s not the first time our stations have worked together. Back in 2013, APR and WVPE teamed up when the Alabama Crimson Tide played Notre Dame for the college football championship. Here’s that feature from the APR archives…

“I'm just excited to see us play our best against the best team in the nation,” said Notre Dame senior Joe de Benedetto felt going into last night's BCS title game.

“It's just, oh my gosh. It would just be, it would make my life. If we win this national championship,” he said.

But it wasn't to be. Alabama scored on its very first drive and just kept on going Notre Dame got two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to keep up with the barrage points by Bama. It wasn't all smooth sailing for the McCarron in the fourth quarter, they exchanged words on the field and that prompted a show from Jones running back. Eddie Lacey says it's no big deal.

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Pat Duggins
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“You know, every once in a while they'd get into like that. I mean they both high energy players,” Lacy observed. “I mean, I don't think there's nothing negative about it though. Just reaction.”

A good night for Alabama met a bad one for Notre Dame star player Manti Teo met with reporters to talk about the loss.

“Obviously we, we wish that, you know, the night could have ended, uh, in a different way,” said Teo.” Um, but you know, the season, uh, the year, you know my career here, um, I've been truly blessed to be a Notre Dame.”

Last night's game was more than just two teams on the field. It was two schools with deep roots in college football. If you go to either campus, the students will tell you all about it.

“Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame, wake up the echo, cheer your name,” sang Notre Dame, senior Ariel Etienne. When we spoke with her, she was packing for Miami as part of the fighting Irish marching band.

“We always do our monogram in D where we for the D monogram at the end of the game.” Etienne observed.

And that musical enthusiasm isn't confined to south bend, Indiana.

“Yea Alabama, drown em’ Tide, something like that?” responded University of Alabama senior Jasmine Ivy. If she sounds giddy, there's a reason Today is graduation a on the Tuscaloosa campus. And Ivy just received her degree in nursing, but football was never far from her mind.

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“It was definitely a culture. I've been a “Crimson Belle” with recruiting. I've worked in the sky boxes. Then spring is kind of like, blah, cause there's no football,” she said.

“That's actually really hard for me to explain. I'm still trying to get it myself,” said Alabama senior Robert Tricarico. He just got his bachelor's degree in political he's from Connecticut. He says he spends a lot of time explaining to his Northern friends and family about the passion for football at Alabama.

“We're in the graduation ceremony and A.J. McCarron got the biggest applause from when he crossed the stage, which I thought was kind of just said it all that the quarterback of the football team got some raucus applause just for graduating,” said Tricarico.

And Bama fans are reminded of their story pass at every rehome game.

“I'd like for the people to remember him as being a winner. Cause I ain't never been nothing but a winner,” said legendary coach bear Bryant, whose voice booms from the loud speakers at Bryant Denny stadium. If you wanna know about Notre Dame mythology, all you have to do is tune into any classic movie channel.

“Someday when the team's up against it breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all that God win. Just one for the Kipper,’ said actor Ronald Reagan in the film, classic “Knute Rockne All American.”

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Not far from the Notre Dame campus in the heart of South Bend, Indiana students and fans can visit Rockies's grave site. Remember marching band member Ariel Etienne?

“But though the odds be great or small, old Notre Dame, will win over all,” she sang, recalling the Notre Dame fight song.

Yes, that's her. She says she's not only a fan of the team, but of Notre Dame traditions.

“We're not only a great football school. We're also number one in graduation rates for our athletes. And I think that's really important,” she contended.

But there is that little matter of the competition between Alabama and Notre Dame.

“At least in our family, we know about, about the history of the rivalry,” said Notre Dame senior Danny leach. “My dad went to ND and was at the 73’ sugar bowl where we played Alabama and beat him for the national championship.”

And that game is a sore spot among fans of the Crimson Tide

Notre Dame edged Alabama, by a single point to take the AP national title. It was a big win for coach Ara Parseghian and a disappointment for Bear Bryant.

As fans of the Crimson tide filed out of sunlight stadium. Some like Larry Simmons of Gadsden say, it's not too early to mention the word dynasty when it comes to Nick Saban,

“I think he's comparable to the last great coach we had bear Bryant and, uh, he was certainly had a legend and a dynasty,” said Simmons

But as far as coach Saban is concerned, the team will get 24 hours to celebrate the title. Then hit the books again. When class starts up on Wednesday, that's when he says will start working on next season.

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