Unlike Super Bowls, which draw many dispassionate corporate fans, Monday’s BCS National Championship Game attracted a crowd proudly draped in team colors from head to toe. The Irish fans were especially fired up for the occasion and echoes of “Let’s Go Irish!” could be heard hours before the game in the parking lots and stadium concourses.
Notre Dame, which had lost some of its luster through two decades of mediocrity, was playing for its first national title in 24 years and the team’s national legion of followers was giddy.
The crowd Monday was dominated by Irish fans, including famous followers Vince Vaughn, Jon Bon Jovi and Regis Philbin. When the Notre Dame marching band stepped onto the field for pregame festivities, the roar was deafening.
But it was the Alabama fans doing most of the cheering once the game began. Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy scored on a 20-yard run three minutes into the game and again 31 seconds before halftime.
Rosaire Longe, a retiree from Burlington, Vt., did not attend either school. But he showed up for the game in a Notre Dame jersey and said he had never had more fun at a sporting event.
“This was on my bucket list of things to do,” he said. “I had been to Super Bowls, World Series games, Stanley Cups, but never a college football national title game. When I saw it was going to be Notre Dame against Alabama, I booked my tickets. This kind of game doesn’t happen every day. It was five degrees when I left Vermont, and 81 degrees when I got off the plane here. And this is quite the scene here, like nothing I have ever seen in all my years. So glad I made the trip.”