Notre Dame, Alabama not exactly Miami favorites


Notre Dame, Alabama not exactly Miami favorites

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) For a fan in the greater Miami area, this national championship game might be a nightmare come true.

On one side, there's Notre Dame - maybe the Miami Hurricanes' most hated rival.

On the other side, there's Alabama - coached by former Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban, whose departure is still the source of great scorn in South Florida.

So what's a Miamian to do?

Apparently, in many cases, root for no one is the answer.

``This stinks for me right now,'' said Heat forward Udonis Haslem, a Miami native, Dolphins fan and Hurricanes fan, even though he's a former Florida Gator. ``This really stinks. I always go back to the `Catholics vs. Convicts' days and then obviously Nick Saban kind of threw the Dolphins to the wolves. I'm not very happy about this national championship game.

``I can't even pick one,'' Haslem added. ``I have a deep distaste for both teams. I can't even pick one. I usually can slide with somebody. Not this one.''

The Miami-Notre Dame history is storied, and the teams met in a regular-season game in October, the first such meeting in nearly a quarter-century (they played in the 2010 Sun Bowl, as well). Notre Dame won in a blowout, one of the 12 victories that got the Fighting Irish to the national title game that will be played Monday night on the Hurricanes' home field.

Simply put, the Irish and Hurricanes don't like each other.

There were accusations suggesting Miami ran up the score on the way to a 58-7 win in Gerry Faust's final game on the Notre Dame sideline, to some Irish fans getting former Miami coach Jimmy Johnson's telephone number in the week before a game, and the infamous brouhaha where police had to break up a pushing and shoving match as the teams were exiting the field after pregame warmups in 1988.

And don't forget those ``Catholics vs. Convicts'' T-shirts. They haven't forgotten them in Miami.

``I think at the end of the day, you still want to see a great game,'' said longtime Miami resident Desmond Howard, the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner for Michigan and now a television analyst. ``I think if you're a football fan, this is what you want to see. I don't think people are tied into, `OK, I don't want to see Nick Saban win.' But then again, that brings the drama. This is a drama-loving country, you know? And Miami loves drama.''

Saban has long been the source of debate in South Florida, simply because he decided to leave the Dolphins after saying he would not accept the chance to coach Alabama.

It's been six years, yet all those wounds that came with Saban saying he wasn't going to take the job have not healed. When the Crimson Tide arrived in Miami this week, Saban said he was thrilled to be back in South Florida.

Echoing those sentiments was Kirby Smart, his defensive coordinator who also worked with Saban during his Dolphins tenure.

``I want to say this: My stay down here was really great,'' Smart said. ``I have a son, I've got twins at home, one named Weston, who I named after where I lived in South Florida. He went yesterday to the city limits and got his picture taken right there, and he was really happy about that. He's now 5 years old or fixing to be 5 years old.''

One of the Heat assistant coaches is former Alabama player Keith Askins, and he and Haslem have forged a particularly close bond over their 10 years together with the two-time NBA championship franchise.

Even that doesn't matter to Haslem, who said he backs all Miami teams. And that's why, in this title matchup, he roots for no one.

``Can't change now,'' Haslem said. ``This is our town.''

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Wilson and Backstrom shine in Caps 3rd straight win

Tarik's 3 Stars: Wilson and Backstrom shine in Caps 3rd straight win

Tom Wilson scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom recorded four helpers and the assistant coaches chipped in with a big assist in Montreal, where the Caps earned a 6-4 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.

The win was Washington’s third in a row and seventh in eight games as they close in on another Metro Division title. Caps Coach Barry Trotz, meantime, claimed victory No. 200 in Washington; his next win will equal Bruce Boudreau for second all-time in franchise history.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Tom Wilson, Capitals

Wilson’s all-around game continues to blossom…and the Caps’ big winger continues to fill up the scoresheet. At Bell Centre, he scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart in the first period to put the Caps in command. Wilson also missed an empty net in the closing seconds by just a few inches. The soon-to-be 24-year-old now has 13 goals—six more than his previous career high.  

2-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

Backstrom notched four assists and, as usual, he did it quietly. And they weren’t cheapies—three of the four helpers were of the primary variety. Backstrom, who has four goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games, has now notched four or more points 20 times in his career. It was also his 11th-career four assist game.

3-Leonhardt and Ohashi, Capitals

That’s right, I’m giving the third star to assistant coaches Brett ‘Stretch’ Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi. They quickly spotted that the Habs were offside on their second goal. And, after a coach’s challenge, the refs agreed. Instead of 2-0, it remained 1-0 and the Caps took full advantage of their second chance, scoring the game’s next four goals.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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Growing rumors that Redskins will land Pernell McPhee

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Growing rumors that Redskins will land Pernell McPhee

Every team in the NFL would love to add to their pass rush, and the Redskins are no exception. The team withdrew its contract offer to Junior Galette, spurring rumors that they were looking elsewhere.

The Redskins recently had linebacker Pernell McPhee in for a visit, and rumors are swirling that the former Bear is close to joining the Burgundy and Gold.

Nothing has been confirmed, but if McPhee does come to Washington, it would be in the hopes that he can provide a boost to the team's pass rush. The linebacker has proven himself capable of getting to the quarterback in his seven seasons in the NFL, recording 31.0 sacks in his career, with 21.5 of those coming in the last four years. He's also forced at least one fumble in each of the past five seasons.

Playing in the DMV again would mark a homecoming of sorts for McPhee, who played in Baltimore for 4 seasons after being drafted by the Ravens in the 5th round of the 2011 draft before signing in Chicago as a free agent.