EDITOR'S NOTE: Quentin Collie, a 2010 Parkersburg Catholic High School graduate, is a junior at the University of Notre Dame, attended Monday night's BCS National Championship game. An English major, Collie penned his thoughts for The Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
Crimson red and Kelly Green covered the beaches of Miami as thousands upon thousands of fans made the journey from all across the country to South Florida for the 2013 BCS National Championship.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Alabama Crimson Tide faithful gathered throughout the Miami area for the various festivities of the weekend, enjoying nearly perfect conditions - low to mid-80s, sunny and blue skies with just enough cloud cover for an occasional reprieve from the heat.
Fans from both sides mingled together. Conversations were friendly and hospitable, but the competitive nature inherent in such an event always found its place in the talks.
By the end of Monday night, however, the arguments between the fans proved to be more competitive than the game itself as Alabama cruised to its third national championship in four years, winning 42-14.
The Crimson Tide set an indicative tone for the outcome of the game on its first offensive drive. As Alabama marched the ball down the field, Notre Dame's No. 1-rated defense offered little, if any, resistance as would be the case the entire game.
In the much-hyped contest between two of the most-storied programs in college football history, the physicality, coaching and execution of Nick Saban's squad outmatched what little fight the Irish could muster. The Alabama offensive and defensive lines controlled the game physically, opening holes for the Crimson Tide's backs on one side of the ball and closing down on the Irish runners in the backfield on the other.
Nick Saban's football machine appeared to know exactly how to pick apart and power through the Irish defense and stymie, especially the run game of, the Notre Dame offense.
Notre Dame's performance on college football's biggest stage let down many Golden Domers and football fans in general.
Despite the loss, the state of Notre Dame football stands at a different place than it did only a year ago after a loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
As a sea of more than 20,000 Notre Dame fans flooded South Beach for a pep rally Saturday evening - with sand underfoot and a warm breeze blowing off the ocean - the enthusiasm surrounding the program could not be ignored. After years of nearly constant grumblings, complaints and general dissatisfaction with the program, the loyal Irish fans appear to feel confidently optimistic about the future.
Top of the class recruiting, a defense-first rebuilding effort, and a renewed energy and effort from coaches and players carried Notre Dame back to serious prominence in the college football landscape this season. Monday night showed that the Irish still have much work to do before winning a national championship, but the future certainly looks golden bright out in South Bend.
And somebody eventually has to dethrone the Alabama-led reign of the SEC over the realm of college football, right?