by Kent Sterling
When you win National Championships like clockwork, demanding and irrational behavior is tolerated. Alabama suspended the block seating privileges of 20 student organizations Friday because they are prone to leave early during the regular blowouts in Tuscaloosa.
The scores of the five home games this season have been 35-10, 31-6, 25-0, 45-3, and 52-0 or an aggregate 188-19. To say the games lack drama is like saying McDonald’s hamburgers lack beef.
Coach Nick Saban’s quote to the Anniston Star about the fans is as strange as the policy that allowed Alabama officials to rescind the privileges, “My sense of it is, I always say the fans are a part of the team. Everybody else should have the same sort of commitment. You don’t have to do the work all week, you don’t have to practice, you don’t have to come in at 7 in the morning and leave at 11 at night, you don’t have to do any of that stuff. All you have to do is come to the game, drink beer, do whatever you want, party in the parking lot. I’ve never been at a tailgate in my life. All I’m asking is that you just come and have fun and stay for the whole game.”
I guess after outscoring his five home opponents by an average of almost 34 points, Saban can lose focus on the quality of play on the field, and allow his eyes and attention to wander to the empty seats during the fourth quarter.
Saban didn’t bother to mention the part where the fans aren’t members of the team, that they pay for tickets to attend the game, and that they are actually customers. The tickets for students only cost $10 each, but the students are still the customers.
The old saying, a saying people don’t pay too much attention to anymore, is “the customer is always right.” At Bryant-Denny Stadium, not only is the customer not always right, they are penalized for having the temerity to exercise their free will long after the result of the game they have paid to witness has been decided.
There is a bar in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis called The Red Key, and the owner used to mandate that everyone in the bar sit, no one swears, and coat were hung properly on a coat rack. Russ Settle gave character to the bar with his strict rules, about which he was very serious.
Saban and the collective boobery mandate attendance at a football game as though it’s an Abnormal Psych class. They happily mimic Settle’s zealous need to control, but strip all of the fun and whimsy. There is nothing whimsical about false imprisonment.
If I were an Alabama fan, I would tell Saban to go pound salt, and I would tailgate and then repair to a bar or apartment to watch the games with friends, but I went to Indiana, and that was the obvious choice regardless of Lee Corso, Sam Wyche, or Bill Mallory’s feelings.