MIAMI (RNN) - Notre Dame, undefeated and ranked No. 1, will receive a stern challenge from Alabama for college football supremacy Monday night.
But in beards, the Fighting Irish are indomitable. No other team in college football comes close.
And just as conditioning is important to an elite athlete, conditioner is crucial to maintain an elite beard. That and shampoo.
"It's all about maintenance," said offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. "You have to be ready for long hours of shampooing and conditioning to keep it in peak condition."
Golic, defensive linemen Tony Springmann and Kapron Lewis-Moore and safety Matthias Farley are among the team members with the most magnificent beards. It started when Farley and a couple of mates decided not to shave in preseason practice and then decided to keep the beards the whole season. Other teammates joined in.
Tweets of support and photos of Notre Dame fans growing beards of their own started pouring in.
Golic said it hasn't been easy. There have been trials and dark moments along the way.
"But we kept our eyes on the prize," he said. "And when you're having a bad beard day, you know you can lean on your brothers for support."
Golic said Springmann is his "beard idol." Lewis-Moore agrees.
"He looks like a lumberjack," he said. "Like he's been in the woods for days."
Springmann is red-headed. No – really, really red-headed – like supernaturally ginger. He has an accompanying mane that flows down his back obscuring the name on the back of his jersey.
Farley, who has some amazing dreads going and who bears a passing resemblance to rapper Matisyahu (before he shaved), agrees that Springmann is the undisputed beard leader of the Fighting Irish.
"You don't see a red beard all that often," he said. "He's an incredibly large human being with a flaming red beard and shoulder-length hair, and the whole thing is a spectacle to see and a blessing to be around."
Springmann said being the beard king of Notre Dame is a lot of pressure, but it's a good kind of pressure. And the beard is sort of a force unto itself.
"It does what it wants," he said of his giant, crimson-orange beard.
Sometimes he has to make sacrifices to maintain beard awesomeness.
"I found a couple of gray hairs in it," he said. "I pulled them out."
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