FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron should feel right at home in when the second-ranked Crimson Tide take on No. 1 Notre Dame for the BCS national title on Monday night at Sun Life Stadium.
That's because he's seen himself playing there for years.
Sun Life is the home of the Miami Dolphins — and the Miami Hurricanes, the team that McCarron grew up rooting for. He strongly considered attending the school and playing for the 'Canes.
"I love 'The U,'" said McCarron, a native of Mobile, Ala. "But I just felt like at the end of the day, it was the best situation for me to stay in the state."
McCarron is tall and lean, reminiscent of former Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, who just happens to be one of the Alabama star's favorite players. McCarron also grew up idolizing former Hurricanes like Willis McGahee, Andre Johnson and Kellen Winslow.
"What probably attracted me the most is, just like whenever you're a little kid, the team that's winning the most is probably your favorite," McCarron said.
He ultimately picked the Tide over Oklahoma and Miami.
And even though McCarron was a 2-year-old at the time, Alabama's win over the Hurricanes for the 1992 national title seems like it's a topic of regular discussion in his house.
"My dad went to that game and missed my brother being born to go to that game," McCarron said. "My mom was not happy."
NIX THE SINGING: Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix and Alabama wide receiver Christion Jones are obviously exceptional football players.
And as singers ... well, they're exceptional football players.
The players got swallowed up in the "Gangnam Style" craze on Wednesday night, when the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide were invited to watch the Miami Heat play the Dallas Mavericks. DJ Irie, part of the Heat in-game entertainment crew, had Nix and Jones at his courtside spot during a break in the action to entertain fans with their version of the popular song.
Nix referred to himself by his Twitter handle while introducing himself to the crowd, then sang for just a few seconds and started to mimic the dance that goes along with the wildly popular song.
Jones seemed to have a bit of stage fright as well, yet walked away laughing as the sellout crowd of just over 20,000 NBA fans roared for both.
SPINMEISTER: Eddie Lacy might have a future in politics since he's mastered the spin.
The Alabama tailback frequently spins away from defenders without seeming to lose much of his momentum, and it works for him.
Lacy even jokes that he created the move when T.J. Yeldon or Kenyon Drake try it out in practice.
"It's just funny," Tide wide receiver Kevin Norwood said. "He'll swear up and down that he invented it, and he put like a trademark on his spin move. He'll try to make a joke, like 'I'm going to charge you $15.'"
Teammates have nicknamed him "Circle Button" after the move that simulates a spin in video games. Lacy says he's been doing it a long time.
"It's just something I've been able to do naturally," he said.
Center Barrett Jones said it's one thing that separates him from predecessors Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram.
"One difference is I've never seen a spin move like he has," Jones said. "He's got a great spin move. I've never seen him get tackled by the first guy he spins on. "
FUZZY IRISH: Just call them the Notre Dame Fuzzy Irish.
About a dozen Notre Dame players have been growing beards since early in the season, and they are looking pretty bushy right now.
Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore is one of the founding members of the beard gang. His is full, thick and dark, though neatly groomed.
The senior said the movement began organically, with no planning nor direction. It wasn't really tied to Notre Dame's winning streak, though at this point the guys who started it aren't about to shave.
The other mainstays in the gang, in from the start, are safeties Zeke Motta and Matthias Farley, guard Mike Golic Jr., and nose guard Tony Springman.
Others have jumped on and off, which doesn't always sit well with the founders.
"Bennett Jackson was on the beard but he shaved it a couple days ago," Lewis-Moore said. "I'm kind of mad at him for that. Then there's guys with the baby face who can't grow it."
Farley said he was considering shaving Tuesday, the day after the national championship game against Alabama. Lewis-Moore said he probably won't keep the beard long-term either.
"I got to look good for the ladies," he said.
The best beards? Lewis-Moore gives the nod to Springman and Golic.