Brian Kelly and Nick Saban expect many restless nights between now and the BCS championship game on Jan. 7.
Kelly and top-ranked Notre Dame play Saban and No. 2 Alabama in Miami. The coaches appeared together at a news conference on Wednesday at the Nasdaq stock exchange in Times Square.
“And in keeping with the venue where we are, you have two blue chip stocks that are going to go against each other,” Kelly said.
Asked what about their opponent will keep them up at night, Kelly and Saban both said there is plenty to worry about.
“Are you kidding me? Really?” Kelly said. “Everything about them.”
Saban’s response: “For me, I never sleep well, so Notre Dame is just the excuse now.”
The Fighting Irish will have 42 days between their last game against Southern Cal and the BCS title game against the Crimson Tide.
Alabama played in the Southeastern Conference title game on Dec. 1, so its break is a week shorter.
This is the third BCS championship appearance in four years for the Tide — Alabama won its previous two — so Saban obviously hasn’t had a problem finding a routine that works.
“Many people have asked me how you carry the momentum of winning the SEC championship game into the next game,” Saban said. “And I think the answer to that is, you can’t. You almost have to look at any bowl game, or any layoff like you have for this length of time, as the next game is sort of a one-game season.”
Both teams will go into training-camp mode this week. The players will lift weights and do conditioning and fundamentals drills.
“Right now we’re doing two weeks of offseason conditioning programs, which is always fun. Always popular with the guys,” Alabama center Barrett Jones said, with more than a hint of sarcasm in his delivery.
Kelly said the worst thing a coach can do about the unusually long time between games is worry about it.
“First, I think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy if you keep talking about the long layoff,” he said. “We don’t talk about that. We talk about what’s the next step here and the next stage, or it’s the national championship.”
“We think we’ve got a plan and we don’t concern ourselves with the length of that time.”
The plan is to keep the next few weeks as productive as possible.
“We try to work our way up to a routine,” Kelly said. “There’s that space there, weight training, conditioning, some fundamental work and then try to get back to that routine that they are all familiar with as we lead into the game.”
Aside from keeping the players occupied and in shape, Kelly and Saban are also facing the possibility that members of their staffs could land coaching jobs over the next week or so.
Kelly’s defensive coordinator, Bob Diaco, was a candidate for the Boston College job that was filled Tuesday when the Eagles hired Steve Addazio away from Temple. Diaco recently won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.