And so it begins

Notre Dame flies to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., today. And it is for a little more than just a bowl game, in case you have not heard.

"I’ve always felt like in bowl games, you kind of let your guys go down on the first night or two and you kind of let them get out there and have a little fun and kind of reward them for the bowl game," Brian Kelly said Saturday. "I don't know if I had a 2 a.m. curfew or something like that. We’re 11 o’clock. This is not a bowl game, you know what I mean? This is: You’re playing for the national championship. We’d rather play right here in South Bend, but we’ve got to go down to Miami to play. I don’t know why you’ve always got to go south.

"We’d like them to come up here. We’re there on a business trip and that’s kind of how we’ve approached it. And I told them that it was going to get to this. You have to let me know if you want to do this because when we go down there, here’s the rules. And they all understand what it’s all about, going down to Miami. It’s not, Enjoy South Beach. This is about preparing for a national championship game."

The Irish went bowling -- the sport, not the postseason -- on Friday, had full-contact practices Friday through Sunday, met at Legends for a New Year's Eve party Monday night following practice that afternoon and had a walk-through after some weight-room work and meetings Tuesday.

The team will depart Michiana Regional Airport at 1 p.m. today, with the players going to the Miami Heat-Dallas Mavericks game tonight. Brian Kelly and Robby Toma are scheduled to meet the media upon the team's landing, too.

As for the rest of the week: The team practices Thursday through Saturday, Bob Diaco and five defensive players speak Thursday, Chuck Martin and five offensive players speak Friday, media day is Saturday and both teams' head coaches speak Sunday morning.

Alabama's media availability will follow a similar schedule, except with its offensive team speaking Thursday and its defensive team going Friday.