FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla . — Apparently Cody Mandell is confident enough in his worth to the Alabama football team that he was putting his Nick Saban impression on full display this week.
“Coach Saban took a while,” Mandell explained during Saturday’s media day at Sun Life Stadium, site of Monday’s BCS Championship Game against Notre Dame. “The first thing you have to get down is the voice. And you have to use your hands. You have to keep them tense all the time. When he talks, he always uses his hands. The hands make it. You can have a half-decent Saban voice and do a great impression with your hands.”
Mandell then launched into his impression, which sounded like a raspy cross between Saban and LSU offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa:
“All right, guys, we need to set a tempo and an intensity at practice today that will outdo our opponent. You can be the thermometer or the thermostat.”
The Lafayette native and former Acadiana High School punter is enjoying his best season yet. He averaged 43.8 yards on 46 punts after averaging 39.2 as a freshman and 39.3 as a sophomore. In May, he was awarded a scholarship after spending two seasons as a preferred walk-on.
“It was a great relief for my family,” he said.
Mandell, who went to high school with former LSU kicker Drew Alleman, said his preparation for this game is the same as any other.
“You have to come out with the same focus and intensity,” he said. “The field is still 100 yards long and 53 yards wide.”
The Sugar and Rose bowls are likely to host the first semifinal games when college football’s four-team playoff begins in January 2015, CBSSports.com reported Sunday, citing unnamed sources. The same story said Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas — home of the Cotton Bowl — is likely to get the first championship game.
The Rose and Sugar would be played on New Year’s Day in back-to-back games, with the Rose starting in its traditional 4 p.m. slot and the Sugar following. Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan said he has not heard anything that would confirm that the Sugar will host one of the first-year semifinals.
Six bowls will be part of the semifinal rotation, each getting four semifinals over a 12-year period. The Sugar and Rose are already in, as is the Orange. The Cotton, Chick-fil-A and Fiesta are considered front-runners for the other three slots.
The national championship game will not rotate but will be bid out like the Super Bowl. BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said Saturday that the first title-game site likely will be selected within 45 days.
Six winners of major college football awards not named Manti Te’o — the Notre Dame linebacker claimed seven — met with reporters Sunday as a prelude to being recognized before Monday’s game.
The players on hand were Heisman Trophy and Davey O’Brien Award winner Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel (A&M), Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee (Southern Cal), Thorpe Award winner Jonathan Banks (Mississippi State), FWAA Courage Award winner Daniel Rodriguez (Clemson) and Disney Spirit Award winner Nate Boyer (Texas).
Manziel was asked about the blur of public appearances he has been part of in the past month since becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman.
“My travel has been a whirlwind since starting in Orlando” at the ESPN awards show, he said. “It’s a real blessing to be in this position, but I’m eager to get back in school and let things slow down a bit.”
Asked to select the winner of Monday’s game, the three Southeastern Conference players picked Alabama, and the others picked Notre Dame. Asked for his pick, Manziel simply said, “Roll Tide.”
Bama sends two home
Alabama freshman linebackers Dillon Lee and Ryan Anderson were sent home after reportedly violating team curfew rules.
Lee played eight games this season with one tackle and one interception. Anderson has not played.
As the No. 1 team, Notre Dame will wear home blue jerseys Monday.
The Irish also will have player names on the jerseys, as is the school’s custom in bowl games. The most recent time Notre Dame had names on their jerseys was for last year’s Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State.
Three’s the thing
If the Irish win, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly would become the fifth coach to lead Notre Dame to the championship in his third season.
The others were Frank Leahy (1943), Ara Parseghian (1966), D an Dev ine (1977) and Lou Holtz (1988).
Notre Dame is 5-1 against Alabama, including a 24-23 win in the 1973 Sugar Bowl that decided the national championship and a 13-11 victory in the 1975 Orange Bowl, which was the final college game for former LSU coach and Notre Dame All-America guard Gerry DiNardo. … Referees from the Pac-12 will work the game. Since officials can’t come from a conference participating in the game, SEC refs haven’t worked a BCS title game since the 2005 Orange Bowl between Southern Cal and Oklahoma. … This is Alabama’s NCAA-record 60th bowl appearance. The Tide is 33-22-3. Notre Dame is 15-16; it self-imposed a bowl ban from 1925-69 that ended when it was a controversial pick over LSU to play Texas in the 1970 Cotton Bowl.