FORT LAUDERDALE (RNN) - Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said watching his dad take photographs of Italian food has been one of the highlights of his brilliant college career.
His dad, Brian, coached him when he was a little boy playing Pop Warner ball. Brian Te'o wasn't a coach, but he learned all he could about the game so he could help his son be as good as he could be.
"He would go to every coaching clinic to learn, just the different techniques and just about this game they call football, so he could be the best mentor and teacher for his son," Manti Te'o said.
Being able to see his dad's pride in his accomplishments is what it's all about.
"I think any child's greatest accomplishment is when they see the joy in their parents' eyes, and they're able to do something for them they couldn't do before, and to repay them for the countless hours and days they've sacrificed," he said.
Te'o said being able to pay that back with a trip to New York was what it's all about.
"To be able to go around on these circuits and see my dad take pictures of food in New York and videotape us driving around New York, I'm like, "Dad, we complain about the tourists in Hawaii, and them driving 10 mph on the highway.
"What are you guys doing? It's just water, it's just coconut trees, and you're taking pictures of lasagne.'"
"For me that's joy," Te'o said. "That's what life is about."
Bob <3s Bama OL
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco loves Alabama's offensive line. He gushed coaching lingo while talking about them.
"Tackle to tackle it's the best group … we've played against," he said. "They're uniquely big and fast. They have quick twitch, they're not on the ground. They have excellent contact balance and ballast. They play very hard … It's not a happy-go-lucky group of offensive linemen," he said. "This an angry, aggressive, intense group of players that play hard and finish blocks."
Barrett <3s Irish defense
Barrett Jones said Notre Dame doesn't really compare to anybody Alabama's played against this year. There are players here and there among Alabama's opponents, a technique, a stunt that he's seen, but not anything like the challenge the Irish present collectively.
He talked about them with admiration when addressing what makes them special.
"I don't mean to be redundant, but execution," he said. "They don't make mistakes. That's the thing you see on film. They don't slant the wrong gap and leave huge holes where they're going to give you easy touchdowns. They make you earn it.
"We're going to have to execute, use our hands well and do it that way."
Love for AJ
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron hasn't made the awards circuit like some of his teammates, but he's a big reason the Crimson Tide is in the national title game.
Diaco says he's like Nick Saban in a 6-4, 201-pound body.
"The quarterback conducts the game just like if Nick Saban was taking the snap himself. He doesn't put the team in bad spots," he said. "He doesn't make poor decisions with the ball. He's working the game and managing the game and putting the offense in the appropriate plays."
Who's like who?
Notre Dame safety Zeke Motta said Alabama presents particular challenges because it has such a variety of talent.
"[Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon] are great running backs and hit the hole with intensity and they are aggressive. I would say [Alabama] is a lot like Michigan State and [Southern California] because of the line and the running backs they have."
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