Notre Dame, Alabama: Better to be Lucky than Good
University of Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore is more lucky than good. Living in Alabama at the time, I still remember the triumphant headlines in December of 2006 that Rich Rodriguez, the coach that had turned West Virginia into a winner, had agreed to take over after the dismissal of Mike Shula who had compiled a 26-23 record at Alabama.
Then came news that Rodriguez had elected to stay at West Virginia. Fans of the Tide were devastated. Other SEC fans, wary of the success of the Mountaineers and nervous about how well Rodriguez could do with the resources of Alabama, sighed a sigh of relief.
What looked like a curse for Moore and the Tide, has since become a blessing as Rich Rodriguez has gone 33-29 and is on his third team since making that fateful decision.
Rumors abound that Mal Moore, who some now believe is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, was told by Bear Bryant, Jr. to go get Nick Saban or he wouldn’t have a job when he returned. True or not, Moore complied with immense pressure and paid whatever it took to bring Saban to Tuscaloosa. A 62-13 record, BCS title appearances in three of the last four years, and BCS bowl berths in four of the last five, have made Moore look like a smart man.
He’s just lucky.
Luck is supposed to be the tool of the Irish, Alabama’s opponent in the BCS title game. Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick appears to have been wiser than Moore as his first choice Brian Kelly has led the Irish to a 12-0 record after two 8-5 seasons.
For Swarbrick, his luck came in the form of an acceptance from Kelly. Like Moore, he hopes for luck in keeping his prized coach away from NFL overtures.
With Kelly on board luck has gotten the Irish through close calls against Purdue, Michigan, Stanford, BYU, and Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, at times, has seemed more lucky than good this season. Luck has also benefitted Alabama who, once again, have made it to the title game despite a regular season loss.
The BCS title game could well come down to the luckier team and both of these teams are oozing with good fortune. Particularly in a defensive contest, as this game is shaping up to with the top two defenses in the country, good fortune can mean everything.
The ball bouncing a certain way, one blown assignment, the vision or lack of vision by a particular official, could and probably will be the difference in the outcome.
I have no doubt that Moore and Swarbrick are searching for four leaf clovers, hanging garlic around their homes, and holding onto their rabbits foot in hopes that luck will give their teams a victory on Monday and that luck will keep them from having to endure another coaching search… one where they might not be so lucky.