This story originated from Comcast Sportsnet Chicago.
Maybe things were going too well for Notre Dame in the last few days. Manti Te'o won every award he was up for -- six in total, setting a new NCAA single-season record for a top-flight college football player. The reality of being 10-point underdogs to Alabama had set in a while ago. What was left to fuel the world-against-us mentality that Notre Dame so proudly carried through 12 games this season?
Their best player finishing second for the Heisman Trophy, apparently.
Plenty of Notre Dame players took to twitter after Johnny Manziel was awarded with the Heisman Saturday night to express their displeasure. Linebacker Carlo Calabrese tweeted "Thats bull. End of story." Braxston Cave, T.J. Jones, Jarron Jones and Kendall Moore all used the hashtag #pissed. Nobody was in the business of taking shots at Manziel, but the thought that Te'o wasn't honored as the best player in the country clearly rankled the team.
Te'o took a different route to come to the same result: An added push for the next month of practice.
"It’s motivation," Te'o told reporters in New York. "I always wanted to be the best. I just use that as motivation too, you know. Just be the best I can be. Obviously I have a lot of work to do. I’m just excited to get back and get things cranking."
Te'o's been away from Notre Dame for nearly a full week, and missed the team's first bowl practice and awards ceremony on Friday. The travel schedule weighed on Te'o, taking him from Charlotte to New York to Houston back to New York in the span of only a few days. The early-morning flights and glad-handing will be replaced by tackles and a few finals to wrap up.
"I’m relieved that it’s over," Te'o said of his exhaustive awards tour. "I’m excited that I get a chance to prepare for ‘Bama. Heisman Trophy or National Championship, I’ll take the National Championship 100 times out of 100. And I want to get back with my brothers, I saw them on TV last night during that awards show and I missed them. It’s time for me to go back home and be with my guys."