Some college football players stay and leave 

Players from Notre Dame, Alabama mull NFL futures

Draft-eligible LSU football players may be turning pro in droves, but few of the draft eligible players at Alabama and Notre Dame in Monday night’s BCS National Champioship Game are expected to follow suit.

Three key Alabama players are expected to go pro: former Dutchtown running back Eddie Lacy, right tackle D.J. Fluker and cornerback Dee Milliner, who is rated as high as No. 11 in an ESPN mock draft.

Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Cierre Wood, listed as a senior though he has played only three seasons so far, are also expected to go.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix have already said they will return for their senior seasons.

In memoriam

There was a brief but touching pregame ceremony on the field before Monday night’s BCS National Championship Game, as Orange Bowl officials presented a check of $81,120 in the name of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

The amount represented $1 for every person in attendance at Sun Life Stadium.

The check will go into a memorial scholarship fund at the University of Connecticut for the siblings and dependents of shooting victims, including those family members currently in college.

Still celebrating

Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez was at Monday’s game, one of several major award winners recognized before kickoff.

Rodriguez, an Army veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star in Afghanistan, received the Orange Bowl-Football Writers Association of America Courage Award.

Rodriguez said Clemson was still abuzz over his team’s 25-24 victory over LSU on Dec. 31 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

“It was a great win for our program,” Rodriguez said. “All week we were saying we were on the doorstep of greatness. We need to take this team to the next level.”

Other award winners honored Monday included Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien Award), Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel (Outland Trophy), USC receiver Marqise Lee (Fred Biletnikoff Award), Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks (Jim Thorpe Award) and Texas deep snapper Nate Boyer (Disney Spirit Award).

Crunching the numbers

Alabama’s 28-0 halftime lead tied for the second-largest in BCS championship game history with USC, which led Oklahoma 38-10 at halftime in the 2005 Orange Bowl. The largest halftime lead was 34-0 by Miami over Nebraska in the 2002 Rose Bowl.

Bama’s 28 points were also the most allowed by Notre Dame this season. The Irish beat Pittsburgh 29-26 in triple overtime Nov. 3.

The Crimson Tide also had more yards by halftime (309) than Notre Dame opponents averaged all season (286.8).

Pay for play

Alabama coach Nick Saban and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly again endorsed the idea of paying some sort of stipend to student-athletes to help them deal with the so-called “real cost” of college.

“Something should be done to enhance the quality of life of student-athletes that are on scholarship,” Saban said, “especially where we’ve sort of gotten to from a business perspective relative to the financial end of things, there isn’t really any good reason that the student-athletes who create that should not share in that to some degree.”

“I know when I played I worked in security and I washed dishes, anything that I could do to put a little money in my pocket so I could go to the movies or get a pizza,” Kelly said. “That’s really what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about paying players. We’re talking about (letting) them be college
students.”

Lagniappe

Alabama reportedly left its beachfront headquarters hotel in Miami Beach for an undisclosed location Sunday night. ... Referees from the Pac-12 worked Monday’s game. ... This was the 20th college football national championship decided in South Florida. ... Notre Dame went into Monday’s game trying to become the first team since Brigham Young in 1984 to start the season unranked in The Associated Press preseason poll and finish as national champion. ... Attendance Monday was 80,120, the largest crowd for any event ever at Sun Life Stadium. Super Bowl XLIV, won by the Saints on Feb. 7, 2010, drew a crowd of 74,059.