Former Notre Dame standout defensive back Tom Gibbons never believed Notre Dame football was off the college football map, even during some of the team's leaner years the last decade.
He told Breitbart Sports the Irish just needed "the right mix of coaches and talent," and that is what they have now with head coach Brian Kelly at the helm. He said it was "great to know that Notre dame is able to compete with major college football powers without abandoning our morals and philosophies regarding the STUDENT athlete," which he said was evidenced by "Notre Dame holding two number one rankings -- on the football field and in the classroom with the number one graduation rate for BCS programs."
Gibbons played under coach Dan Devine, who won a national title with Notre Dame in 1978, and was the captain in his senior year for Devine's last Fighting Irish team. Gibbons spoke about the key to the national title game against Alabama, the top-two defenses in the country, and his former coach.
On the key to the BCS national championship game:
"Notre dame's defensive front seven versus Alabama's running game is undoubtedly the key to the game. Notre dame's defense has led the team all year long and must be successful for us to win. The other key factor is turnovers. If Alabama consistently has a long field, they will not score enough to defeat the Irish."
On the two top-ranked defenses in the nation:
"They both obviously are stingy with points, which is the most critical factor. Notre dame has a young but proven defensive backfield that will be tested. Alabama's defensive backfield has demonstrated some vulnerabilities, particularly against Georgia and Texas A&M, that will be challenged by a young Notre Dame passing game."
On why former Notre Dame head coach Dan Devine may not get as much recognition as he is warranted:
"He followed a very charismatic Ara Parseghian, and he was not the most outgoing individual. He put together a tremendous set of assistant coaches and, like a true CEO, let them run the offense and defense. It is argued that he won with Ara's team, but it's no different than Ara and/or Lou who won in their third year. Unfair comparisons, but ultimately it comes down to charisma."
Alabama-Notre Dame may draw historic ratings, and Gibbons said "two historic programs at the top of their games can only be good for college football."
He also is bullish about Notre Dame football's future, citing their top-ranked recruiting class (according to Rivals.com and ESPN).
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