For many Crimson Tide fans, the period between the end of football season and kickoff in the Fall is the sports equivalent to the long dark night of the soul. For some, the only thing that helps during the off season is recruiting coverage and the arrival of A-Day at the end of Spring practice.
However, things have changed over the years at The Capstone. Alabama has traditionally been a powerhouse in football since the 1920’s, but last year the Tide won national titles in four sports and was a contender in others. Since the late 80’s, when Gymnastics won the first of six national championships, Alabama has been improving facilities, improving recruiting, and building strength in programs other than football. The results can be seen on and off the field of play.
People are attracted to success. Student enrollment has doubled since the late 80’s and the size of the campus, in terms of ground coverage and facilities, appears to have done the same.
Much of the growth is due to the renewed success of football which has generated more alumni donations, more revenue and more attention from students and student athletes around the world.
Alabama’s success on the gridiron has always been visible nationally, but the steady growth in other sports has contributed greatly to the health of the University by attracting students who recognize a level of strength in the University that can only come from a good balance of academics and athletics. Evidence of this can be seen by the fact that a majority of students at UA are from states other than Alabama – unusual in major colleges.
Not all of the growth at UA can be attributed to success in sports. Alabama has a strong academic tradition and wins awards in the classroom. Success breeds success and people with a drive to win in any field are naturally attracted to success in other areas.
A focus on excellence cannot be contained in one field of study or one sport. Excellence is viral. By nature, a focus on being the best you can be must translate into every area of life and this is the secret to growth at Alabama.
As Coach Saban prepares to sign the nation’s top recruiting class again this year, the enthusiasm, the winning attitude, and the commitment to excellence will be felt on the golf course, on the softball field, on the quad, and in the classroom.
Follow William on Twitter