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updated: 1/7/2013 11:21 PM

Rout or not, Notre Dame brand is back

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  • Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scrambles during the first half of Monday night's 42-14 loss to Alabama.

    Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scrambles during the first half of Monday night's 42-14 loss to Alabama.
    Associated Press


Too often the past couple of decades, Notre Dame's football teams played like Twinkies.

For the first time this season, the Irish did again Monday night as Alabama routed the Irish 42-14 for the national championship.

Notre Dame gave Twinkies a bad name, actually, but a case can be made that better times are ahead for both these iconic brand names.

First things first: The Crimson Tide embarrassed the Fighting Irish by leading by 3 touchdowns one play into the second quarter.

Critics questioning Notre Dame's worthiness were gloating. A few SEC opponents offered Alabama more resistance.

The Tide looked like it had 11 better defensive players than Irish linebacker Manti Te'o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron made Notre Dame's Everett Golson look like he was playing in shadows much of the night.

The Tide's NFL offensive-line-in-training pushed the Irish's heralded defensive line all around South Florida.

In winning its third national title in four years, Alabama systematically turned Notre Dame's strengths into weaknesses.

Welcome back to the big-time, Irish.

All that said -- and it's certainly a lot -- the Irish could take solace that this was their beginning rather than their end.

That's where the Twinkies reference rears its tasty head again: These are two of history's greatest brand names attempting to rebound from tough times.

The world's biggest knuckleheads have to be those who doubted Notre Dame ever would play for a national championship again. The question never was whether the Irish would play for the title again. It was what was taking them so long.

Iconic brand names are powerful commodities. It's difficult to find someone who doesn't know about both Twinkies and Notre Dame football.

Yet both these products were afterthoughts the past, say, 20 years due to ignorance and negligence by their caretakers.

Hostess Brands allowed Twinkies to fade into oblivion, and Notre Dame blundered its football program into irrelevance.

All it took for anyone to recall what Twinkies meant to mankind was the threat of a world without them.

Meanwhile, all it took for everyone to recall what Notre Dame meant to college football was this season.

The Irish never really went anywhere. They simply were obscured by the school's myriad bad decisions.

Notre Dame took success for granted. Administrators thought any head coach and any game plan would be good enough to perpetuate success.

Mistakes kept being compounded by hiring one inadequate head coach after another. Ah, but they couldn't kill that Notre Dame brand they could only bury it for a while.

Right up until this loss to Alabama, the 2012 regular season resounded with what the Irish are at their best: The excitement in Oklahoma just because Notre Dame visited to play the Sooners; Te'o's joy over leaving his Hawaii home for four years in South Bend; and the Irish's unbeaten regular season leading to this year's No. 1-ranked recruiting class.

America's memory merely had to be jogged a bit for Notre Dame to be thought of as Notre Dame again.

Alabama's emphatic victory notwithstanding, Notre Dame's brand might be college football's only one the next decade or two that can challenge the SEC's dominance.

Don't bet against Twinkies being back, too, and maybe the two iconic brands will feed off each other in an advertising campaign.

Hey, Irish, got Twinkies?

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