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Especially on the Alabama side.

“People have been stopping me on elevators saying, `I was there at the `73 game. You better win one for us,’” said Barrett Jones, the Crimson Tide’s All-American center. “Certainly we’ve heard a lot about it. But when the ball is snapped, that’s not going to matter.”

It does matter to Bill Davis.

He was the Alabama kicker on that `73 team. He was the one who missed the extra point with 9 1/2 minutes remaining after the Tide reclaimed the lead, 23-21, on a 25-yard pass from Mike Stock to quarterback Richard Todd, who handed the ball off to his halfback going right and then broke free along the left sideline, the Notre Dame defense totally caught off guard when Stock pulled up and threw back the other way.

Now a dentist in the north Alabama town of Athens, Davis no longer remembers if he missed the kick to the left or the right.

Maybe he’s just learned to block it out.

“I felt bad about it at the time,” he said Monday morning in a telephone interview from his office during a break between patients. “I still do.”

Fortunately for Davis, who followed two older brothers into the Alabama kicking job, he didn’t face the sort of Bill Buckner-like scorn that would bedevil others who faltered on the biggest stages. He still says “Roll Tide” at the end of phone conversations, still has mostly fond memories of his football career and playing for the man everyone in Alabama calls “Coach Bryant” to this day, nearly 30 years after his death.

Davis built a successful business, which he shares with his daughter, and welcomed his first grandchild just last Friday.

“It’s a girl,” he said proudly.

But, come Monday night, he’ll be tuned in and pulling extra hard for his beloved Tide. There’s still a score to settle.

“If we win,” Davis said, “that would put a lot of that other stuff to rest.”

For Parseghian, the `73 Sugar Bowl put to rest his reputation for playing it safe, which he had carried ever since his decision to settle for a 10-10 tie in an another epic game, the 1966 contest against Michigan State.

That game was especially galling to Alabama fans, since the tie didn’t prevent Notre Dame from winning the first of two national titles during the Parseghian era. The Fighting Irish stayed atop the rankings ahead of both the mighty Spartans (who had four of the top eight picks in the next NFL draft) and a Tide team that posted a perfect record in the quest for an unprecedented third straight championship (to this day, no team has finished No. 1 in The Associated Press rankings three years in a row).

Seven years the epic Notre Dame-Michigan State tilt, with another national title hanging in the balance and the Irish facing third-and-long from their own 3-yard line, Parseghian decided the prudent call was to gamble. He sent in a formation that looked like a run _ two tight ends and three running backs _ but signaled a pass to quarterback Tom Clements.

Story Continues →