My best friends know that I am a diehard Alabama Crimson Tide fan. They know to never call me on a fall Saturday afternoon or evenings when Alabama is playing. I have Bama symbols all around me where I work and write every day. I check the online news faithfully. I even play the fight song several times a day. Thus, for the past six plus weeks I have watched the news from Tuscaloosa about the search for a new coach with great interest. Today the answer came. Nick Saban, one of the best college coaches around, left his better paying professional job in Miami and took the Alabama job. I am a happy camper this evening.
I went to the University of Alabama from 1967-69. I was there when the color barrier was broken. I even met Bear Bryant while I was a student. I grew up admiring Coach Bryant, as his guys called him, from the moment my dad took me to my first Alabama game in 1958, the Bear’s first year as Bama’s storied coach. (The Bear and my dad were born in the same year, came from the same small area of Arkansas, and went to the same high school.) It has been twenty-five long years since the Bear retired. He passed away only a month later, in January of 1982. Bama has only won one national champsionship since then, under Gene Stallings, a very fine gentleman and a great coach himself. This program has endured a long probation of four years and a desperate carousel of coaching changes, some Bama’s fault and some not. The major problem was created by an adulterous affair under Mike DuBose that turned into a blackmail scenario. This led to a football program out of control and that led to major recruiting violations when Coach DuBose lost control of every day leadership. That dark era is now over. The desire to right the ship, and to win again, is clearly back. Today’s news gladdens the hearts of true Crimson Tide fans. We have a coach and he is clearly a good one.
The New York media is like a tank full of sharks about this move. They have made fun of Alabama on ESPN regularly, suggesting for weeks that no one with an ounce of common sense would want this job. And they believe Nick Saban is a liar and a fraud since he denied interest in the job for weeks. Even though the Miami Dolphins owner has plainly said he is not angry at Saban, and indeed that he loves him personally, the media mocks both Saban and the Miami owner. Both the owner and Saban say it was all about Saban’s desire, and that of his wife Terry, to be back in a college town with college kids. But the pundits laugh and cry foul and talk about motives. The funny thing here is that no one wants to believe either Saban or the Dolphins owner, who are the only two people who know what they really talked about over the last two days. I have to say that living with accusations is no fun, especially when they are about your motives. I sure hope Coach Saban has a thick skin. I would guess he does. I know this much. He loves the game, he is a great coach, he brings real passion to the sidelines, and he will make my Saturdays a lot more fun in the coming years. Now, lets beat Tennessee and Auburn again. Rolllllllllllllllllllllllll Tide!