If you’re going to an Alabama football game, get comfortable. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban will be grumpy if you don’t stay until the clock hits zero, even if the scoreboard can’t keep up with Alabama’s points.
Saban grumbled again this week about the state of Alabama’s student section, which was half-full (or perhaps half-empty) during the Tide’s win Saturday against Louisiana Lafayette.
“I can honestly say I was a little disappointed there weren’t more students at the last game,” Saban said at a Wednesday news conference. “I think we’re trying to address that. I don’t think they’re entitled to anything, either. Me, personally, I think it ought to be first-come, first-serve. If they don’t want to come to the game, they don’t have to come. But I’m sure there’s enough people around here that would like to go to the games, and we’d like for them to come, too, because they support the players.”
Never mind the 11 a.m. start time. Never mind that Alabama was up 28-0 after the first quarter. Never mind that Saban put in his third-stringers in the third quarter. Never mind that Alabama students pay several hundred dollars for tickets to Tide home games.
Never mind that the official box score lists the game’s attendance as 101,471, or 400 fans shy of Bryant-Denny Stadium’s capacity.
Saban is still peeved with Alabama’s student section, and he has been upset for years. In 2013, he complained about fans leaving early and suggested if they didn’t plan to stay for the whole game, they shouldn’t show up at all.
“I’ve talked about players playing for 60 minutes in the game and competing for 60 minutes in the game,” Saban said, via AL.com. “And, in some kind of way, everybody that chooses to go to the game should stay there and support the team for the game.”
“Maybe if you’re not interested in doing that, you should let someone else go who would really like to go, because I have a lot of people who want to go,” he added.
The next day, Alabama got rid of block seating, a system for Greek houses and other student groups to sit together, for 20 organizations. The school warned “excessive tardiness or early departure from the stadium” is “unacceptable behavior,” according to the Birmingham News.
But as the Tide continues to pummel opponents and games routinely last in excess of 180 minutes, Saban isn’t just disappointed by the attendance. He wants more enthusiasm all the time.
“When I first came here, you used to play that tradition [video] thing up there and everybody was cheering and excited and happy and there was great spirit,” Saban said Wednesday. “Now, they don’t even cheer. They introduce our players, and nobody even cheers.”
“There’s a part of it where other people need to support them, too, and there’s got to be a spirit that makes it special to play here, because that’s what makes it special to be here,” he continued. “And if that’s not here, then does it continue to be special to be here or not? That’s the question everybody has to ask. I’m asking it right now.”
These remarks come two weeks after Saban begged reporters to write bad things about his football team (which earlier that day had drubbed Texas A&M, 45-23) so players would find areas for improvement.
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