I had to laugh this morning when I read about the seating controversy for students at Alabama football games. It seems the school administration has suspended the block seating policy for 20 campus organizations because they have been leaving the stadium early during Crimson Tide blow out wins. The move came on Friday before Alabama’s 45-10 win over Tennessee Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Coach Nick Saban had brought the matter up on Thursday of last week during his weekly radio show saying, “You don’t have to do all the work during the week, you don’t have to practice, you don’t have to come in at 7:00 in the morning and leave at 11:00 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, and party in the parking lot. I’ve never been to a tailgate in my life. All I’m asking you to do is come to the game, have fun, and stay for the whole game.”
When Coach Saban speaks, the university listens, and reacts. The school suspended the usual block-seating privileges the next day, saying the student organizations violated school guidelines that list excessive tardiness or departing the games early as “inappropriate behavior.” The university also refused to name the student organizations that were affected.
It appears to me a bit of apathy and even complacency has set in at Alabama. The Crimson Tide is now 8-0, and ranked first in all the polls, even the all-important BCS standings. ‘Bama has also swept through their opponents in an unbelievably easy fashion so far in 2013. The Tide has outscored the opposition 330-78 in eight games and their only tough test was a 49-42 win at Texas A&M more than six weeks ago. Alabama has also outscored their opponents 153-16 at home.
Think about this; a student that is in his third or fourth year doesn’t really know what it’s like to lose a football game, home or away. He sees his team blow most teams out early, as the Tide did against the Vols on Saturday. Then, he and his buddies get bored. They leave the stadium and start the victory party early. It’s understandable why they do it, only Coach Saban wishes they would hang around a lot longer to put on a good impression for the national television audience and most especially the recruits that are attending.
This reminds me a bit of the complacency that took over Atlanta a few years ago. The Braves won the World Series in 1995, and made the post-season every year for a long time. When the playoffs began, there were always plenty of empty seats during the last few years of their long, successful playoff run. It was that way until one year they failed to make the post-season. In other words, the fans were spoiled. That sense of apathy or complacency can also spread to the team which I believe is in the back of Coach Nick Saban’s mind.
Some of the Crimson Tide students voiced their opinions on various websites as well. My favorite is this one from Abidur Rahman, a cashier at the Stop and Shop in Tuscaloosa. Rahman says, “Maybe the students have other things to worry about than the Alabama football team winning another home game 49-7, like a paper, a mid-term or a project.”
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).