No one from Notre Dame laid a glove on Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron during the Crimson Tide’s 42-14 victory in the BCS National Championship game Monday at Sun Life Stadium. But McCarron got pushed around by Bama’s All-American center Barrett Jones during a fourth-quarter outburst over a botched snap count.
It might have been the most exciting moment of a game that was over almost before it started because Alabama was so dominant, especially on offense. In a way, the fact that two Tide stars were going at it with such passion late in a game they were winning in a rout was testament to the fiery, focused attitude they brought to the game.
The Crimson Tide received a false start penalty because of the commotion that erupted during a moment of confusion of the blocking assignments and the snap count. Jones failed to snap the ball when McCarron was calling for it as the play clock wound down, and flags flew. McCarron stepped around from behind Jones to confront him verbally, and Jones expressed his irritation by shoving McCarron.
“Everyone is freaking out about that,” Jones said with a smile after the game. “We were trying to bleed the clock a little bit. So, we got up to the line of scrimmage and there wasn’t much time left on the [play] clock. I had to recall [the blocking assignment], and he got a little bit frustrated and went to the nearest person, which happened to be me. It was no big deal. That’s how our relationship is. We’ve gotten in several group altercations like that in practice.”
In fact, the edgy relationship between Jones and McCarron was on display during media day when they sat at tables near each other and continually jawed back and fourth, landing some good-natured jibes. Coach Nick Saban wrote it off as an impulsive exchange between brothers.
“That’s just AJ,” Saban said. “That’s the kind of relationship I have with him, too. AJ is a leader, a competitor. He’s a fiery guy. He lets his personality come out, and I think people respect that. I don’t think he does it in a negative way, and I think there’s probably nobody in the world that respects Barrett Jones and what he’s accomplished more than AJ does.”
ESPN’s cameras later caught Jones and McCarron hugging it out after the game. Though Jones downplayed the severity of the incident after the game, he made sure to tell the television interviewer with a sly grin, “I was right.”