Although they are rivals on the field, Brian Kelly and Nick Saban came together in what has become a rite of passage for the two coaches in the BCS National Championship—posing with the crystal ball trophy on the eve of the game.
Dozens of camera lenses swarmed the pair to capture the moment for the world to see.
In between the flashing bulbs and media circus, Coach Kelly was already thinking a little bit about doing the same thing next January.
"You set a goal, you set a bar. They've already been here. You come back the next year,” said Kelly, “It's unacceptable for a standard to be any less than being back here again. So it's an incredible springboard."
A springboard Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide have now vaulted off three times in the last four years. With those kinds of results one would think Saban expects to end every season posing with the trophy, but that is not the case with the Alabama coach.
"Well, to be honest, I think this team has kind of exceeded expectations in terms of -- if you look at all the players that we lost last year, the leadership that we lost, the injuries that we've had, the schedule that we played, the adversity that had to be overcome,” Saban said at a press conference Sunday, expressing his pride of what his team accomplished as a group.
Despite the upcoming faceoff there is still an enormous amount of respect between the coaches.
"You know what you're going to get from him every single day,” Kelly said about Saban, “You're going to get a disciplined program both on and off the field; you're going to get great coaching, great teaching; and you're going to get a football team that knows how to play the game.”
“Consistency” is the word Kelly used to describe Alabama’s coaching. For a team that has competed for the national title in three of the past four seasons, “consistency” certainly describes how Saban goes about his job on a day-to-day basis coaching the Crimson Tide.
The respect between the coaches goes both ways. In a presser Coach Saban stressed the respect he has for not only Brian Kelly’s coaching but the entire program at Notre Dame.
"Certainly no surprise that in the three years that he's been at Notre Dame he's built arguably one of the best programs in the country relative to the success that he's had there and the opportunity that's created for his team this year,” said Saban.