No matter what happens Monday night in the BCS championship game against Alabama, Notre Dame will be the big winner for 2012, and many more years to come. Call it the luck of the Irish if you want, but they could not have picked a better time to put together a dream season.
As recently as the end of last season, it was legitimate to question whether Notre Dame was a national thing any longer. Squeezed out - on its own volition, no less - of the mad conference realignment money-grab, Notre Dame had become a perennial also-ran in a landscape increasingly dominated by the SEC and other power conferences. The Irish had lost 10 of their last 12 bowl games, including nine in a row from 1994 to 2006. And their TV ratings had slipped so much that they were even mocked by their own network.
All it took was a 12-game winning streak to fix all that.