David Mitchell: A full dose of the fan experience

MIAMI -- I only thought the atmosphere in Miami was good a few days ago.

On Sunday, after six days in Florida, I finally got a full dose of the national championship fan experience.

Thousands of fans lined South Beach for the Discover Championship fan experience. There was a live concert, games and packed restaurants. Fans in crimson greeted everyone with a, "Roll Tide!" Fans in green countered with, "Go Irish!"

Former Crimson Tide stars Javier Arenas and Trent Richardson sat on a stage for a question and answer session on the beach, surrounded by excited Alabama fans.

The beach was packed, in football terms, sideline to sideline.

Even for an unbiased sports writer who graduated from the University of Georgia, which fell 5 yards from being in Alabama's place, it was an incredible setting to find myself in.

I've written all week about the great fans that made the trip to Miami for the game and the importance of the days leading up to the national championship.

Everyone will be glued to their TV sets today, anxiously awaiting the national champion to be crowned. But the game within the game -- the tailgating, the fan days and the pep rallies -- are really what this event is all about.

Sure, it has its negative aspects.

On Saturday night, I attempted a trek to South Beach to meet and speak with a few fans, failing miserably when I got stuck in traffic and wasn't able to find a parking spot.

But those are only minor inconveniences when you consider what is taking place.

I'll willingly admit that I still would like to see my Bulldogs win their games, but I'm a sports fan first and foremost.

Every sports fan has a bucket list, and attending a college football national championship weekend is right there at the top for most.

This weekend, for myself and the thousands of Alabama and Notre Dame fans that made the trip, underscores why it holds such esteem in the minds of sports fans.

The city of Miami has been great. The fans have been better. All we have left, now, is the game itself.

If that game is anything close to the intensity and excitement of the days leading up to it, then we, as football fans, are all in for an incredible treat.

David Mitchell is a sports writer with the Ledger-Enquirer. Follow him on Twitter @leprepsports.