The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

BCS Championship

January 5, 2013

Notre Dame, Alabama not exactly Miami favorites

(Continued)

And don't forget those "Catholics vs. Convicts" T-shirts. They haven't forgotten them in Miami.

"I think at the end of the day, you still want to see a great game," said longtime Miami resident Desmond Howard, the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner for Michigan and now a television analyst. "I think if you're a football fan, this is what you want to see. I don't think people are tied into, 'OK, I don't want to see Nick Saban win.' But then again, that brings the drama. This is a drama-loving country, you know? And Miami loves drama."

Saban has long been the source of debate in South Florida, simply because he decided to leave the Dolphins after saying he would not accept the chance to coach Alabama.

It's been six years, yet all those wounds that came with Saban saying he wasn't going to take the job have not healed. When the Crimson Tide arrived in Miami this week, Saban said he was thrilled to be back in South Florida.

Echoing those sentiments was Kirby Smart, his defensive coordinator who also worked with Saban during his Dolphins tenure.

"I want to say this: My stay down here was really great," Smart said. "I have a son, I've got twins at home, one named Weston, who I named after where I lived in South Florida. He went yesterday to the city limits and got his picture taken right there, and he was really happy about that. He's now 5 years old or fixing to be 5 years old."

One of the Heat assistant coaches is former Alabama player Keith Askins, and he and Haslem have forged a particularly close bond over their 10 years together with the two-time NBA championship franchise.

Even that doesn't matter to Haslem, who said he backs all Miami teams. And that's why, in this title matchup, he roots for no one.

"Can't change now," Haslem said. "This is our town."

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