NOTRE DAME: The football players work out at the Haggar Fitness Center in the Gug. It features more than 250 pieces of weight training equipment, six flat-screen TVs and a sound system, and it’s available to all Notre Dame athletes.
ALABAMA: Coach Nick Saban’s towering likeness stands next to Bryant-Denny Stadium, offering a good spot for fan pictures on game day. The 9-foot statue is one of five honoring Tide football coaches who have won national titles, joining Wallace Wade, Frank Thomas, Paul W. “Bear” Bryant and Gene Stallings in the Walk of Champions plaza. It was unveiled in the spring of 2011, 15 months after `Bama won the 2009 championship.
NOTRE DAME: Walk around Notre Dame Stadium and at each entrance you’ll find a statue of one of its championship-winning coaches. Knute Rockne’s guards the north tunnel, facing Touchdown Jesus. Dan Devine is at Gate A. Ara Parseghian is at Gate B. Frank Leahy is at Gate C. Lou Holtz is at Gate D.
ALABAMA: Tradition holds that the Tide’s elephant mascot dates to 1930 when Atlanta Journal sports writer Everett Strupper wrote that a fan called out: “Hold your horses, the elephants are coming.” The “Red Elephant” nickname for the linemen stuck. The Big Al mascot made his official debut in the 1979 Sugar Bowl, when Alabama claimed its second straight national title with a win over Penn State. A game-saving goal line stand stole some of Big Al’s thunder.
NOTRE DAME: The Leprechaun became the official mascot of the Fighting Irish in 1965, though four years earlier a student first donned the costume and roamed the sidelines. Leprechaun tryouts consist of a five-minute mock pep rally, an interview with a local media personality, responding to game situations, answering Notre Dame trivia, dancing an Irish jig, and doing 50 push-ups.
_ KEEPING IN STEP
ALABAMA: The Crimsonettes, a group of energetic dancers, entertain crowds at various sporting events. They’re chosen based on dancing skills, physical fitness and the ability to learn the group routine, according to the school’s Web site.
NOTRE DAME: The Irish Guard. Formed in 1949 as a part of the University of Notre Dame Marching Band, the guards wear a uniform of traditional Scottish kilt and Notre Dame tartan. To the top of the shako, a guard stands 7-feet tall, and the game-day inspection of the Guard usually draws a crowd _ though not for the same reasons the Crimsonettes do.
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