Well, now Mr. Holtz is the one laughing. The Fighting Irish face another storied college team, Alabama’s Crimson Tide, on Tuesday in a dream matchup for the NCAA, television executives and, not least, college football fans. The game could be the most avidly anticipated since . . . the last time these two teams met in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship, on New Year’s Eve, 1973—a game won by Notre Dame. …

Mr. Holtz says a Notre Dame win is “meant to be,” and even if that team-of-destiny talk is rejected by the bettors (the Crimson Tide is a formidable 10 point favorite), his improbable but accurate prediction of Mr. Kelly’s rapid success should at least give one pause. Beyond the sort of divine intervention suggested by such confidence, what is it about the Notre Dame program that put it into a position to compete for another national championship?

Mr. Holtz immediately points to the radically improved training facilities at the Catholic university in South Bend, Ind. Its training and locker rooms and much of its equipment was not so long ago of “high school” caliber or nearing dilapidation. The team now practices using a $25 million facility that Mr. Holtz describes as the best in the country.