The hotel lobbies and surrounding streets are quiet again. No more pep rallies, slogan-spewing alums, color-coordinated college kids.
The delegations from Alabama and Notre Dame are all but gone from South Florida. But before they headed to the airport Tuesday after the big game the night before, the tuckered-out super fans quietly glowed in satisfaction or shook their heads in resignation.
Only one team could claim victory on the field during Monday night’s BCS championship, but when it ended, fans of both teams felt like they won. Many said their joy came from following their favorite team to the game at Sun Life Stadium.
For a group of Alabama fans hanging in the lobby of their team’s headquarters, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, the thrill continued Tuesday morning when players signed autographs before boarding their buses to the airport.
Laurie Gelman beamed while she watched her sons, Thomas, 12, and Michael, 10, get autographs from newly minted national champions.
"That just made our year," the Jacksonville woman said.
This year marked the third time the Gelmans have brought their sons to an Alabama national championship game. After the team clinched titles in Pasadena and New Orleans, they determined their boys are good-luck charms.
"We’ve had a lot of years with very meager teams, so this is nice," said the boys’ father, Mark Gelman.
The Fontainebleau’s lobby was quiet Tuesday morning. Many guests were checking out of the Collins Avenue hotel — including the players, who were catching an early afternoon flight.
Before she departed, Kim Walls of North Carolina, a self-described "die-hard Alabama fan," shopped for half-priced Alabama merchandise in the hotel’s BCS apparel store.
Although she lives out of state, Walls attends every Alabama home game and flies to many away games. This was the fourth Alabama national championship game she attended.
Walls said one of the week’s highlights was standing in front of the Fontainebleau with hundreds of other fans while the Crimson Tide players returned in buses after Monday night’s game.
"I videoed the whole thing," she said. "Nick Saban waved at me.”
Life was a little more somber across the county line at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, base for Notre Dame players and supporters.
Wearing a Notre Dame T-shirt and hat, Brian Golden sat poolside with his friend, Dave Aldrup, who wore red swim trunks.
"We used to be good friends," Golden said jokingly of his Alabama buddy.
Despite the rivalry, both men were enjoying the laid-back atmosphere at the hotel.
"I didn’t wear my red [shirt] today," Aldrup said. "I wanted to be respectful."
Although his team lost, Golden said he felt the week was a positive experience.
"It was pretty exciting to be down here," he said. "It was like a celebration of the whole year."
Notre Dame sophomores Caroline Kelley and Taylor Freeman said they are still feeling ND pride after the game. And Freeman, sporting a ND sweatshirt, didn’t try to camouflage her allegiance, even in defeat.
"I think we’re one of those few schools that even when this stuff happens, you’re still the most proud school possible," she said. "The game was a little sad, but I feel like people showed a lot of class."
Back in Miami Beach, three of Alabama’s team managers sat exhausted in the Fontainebleau lobby Tuesday morning. But it wasn’t because they had participated in the party after the game.
They had stayed up cleaning the team locker room and making sure everything was ready for departure Tuesday.
Despite the work, "We’ve had a great time," said junior and team manager Turner Norsworthy.
Ronny Robertson, Alabama’s senior associate athletic director, sat in the lobby with his wife, Sue, preparing to fly back home with the team.
Both Ronny and Sue said most Alabama fans left when the team did.
For the final time in South Florida, the Crimson Tide players boarded buses behind yellow caution tape on the way to the airport and back to Tuscaloosa.
"Hopefully we see these guys again next year in Pasadena," said Mark Gelman.