For a few hours every weekday, Alabama and Auburn fans agree on one thing: they can’t stand Paul Finebaum, but they can’t stop listening. His syndicated radio show stokes the fires of this rivalry, and one of his regular callers, Shane from Center Point, certainly does his part.
Shane, a staunch Tide fan, tweaks Auburn fans and delivers heartfelt commentary on the state of Alabama football. He’s loved by some, hated by others, but like the host who takes his calls, he’s never boring.
We spoke with Shane recently, and got his take on football, the media, and what it’s like to be him…
You’re one of the most well-known and controversial callers to the Paul Finebaum Show. How did all of this get started?
I don’t know about being well-known, and I don’t really consider myself to be that controversial. I’ve always enjoyed the rush that being put on the spot provides. After exhausting my sports career, I went looking for a venue to get some kicks and have some fun. Sports talk radio, and the Finebaum show in particular, test one’s ability to think quickly in real time. When you enter the realm of Finebaum, you better bring your game. If you don’t believe it’s tough, try doing a live call with Paul. Also, I realized from the beginning that live radio is a great place to ‘brand’ a name.
How did the Shane Sez column come about?
The column, as well as the picks during the season, are born from the same challenge I mentioned before. I suppose I’m considered arrogant, egotistical and overbearing, but I’m knowledgeable about the game of football. Besides, Paul and Pat Smith [Executive Producer of the Paul Finebaum Radio Network] are friends of mine, and they graciously allowed me to bring my idea for a column to life. Without their blessing the column simply would not exist.
I can only imagine the response you get. Hate mail?
Yes, but actually I prefer to use the phrase ‘validation mail.’ The fact that someone takes time from their busy day to respond to my opinions both fascinates and humbles me. Also, the feedback usually serves as a confirmation that my spin is on target. Since I project an extreme Alabama bias, most of the nasty stuff comes from the Aubies, and who cares what they think anyway?
After this interview, is Bobby from Homewood going to demand equal time?
You’ve been on a crusade lately against the influence the media has on college athletics. You’re pretty closely tied with one media outlet, so is it as bad as you say?
Yes. Along with the advent of the Internet, there is constant television coverage and sports talk radio. Knowing that most people get their news from these three, I think the media is more powerful than ever. They control the perception game. Even worse, the sports media have resorted to tabloid journalism. If a school chooses to limit media access, the media then pick apart and publicize every negative aspect of that program. Recruiting and poll rankings receive heavy media coverage. Therefore, any negative coverage could damage the program’s chances to be successful in either facet.
You have a column on a website, and you’re doing an interview for a blog. There are websites that provide up-to-the-minute recruiting news. Does the Fan Media have anywhere near the influence of the traditional media?
Absolutely. The average fan has more knowledge, better access to information, and less need for the traditional media with every passing day. Blogs, message boards and chat rooms provide the general public with a forum to communicate with no reliance on the typical media outlets. The Fan Media has become a legitimate force.
Switching specifically to Tide football: Finebaum picked Alabama to win seven games this season. Is that about right in your view?
Finebaum is low-balling the record to appear unbiased, or maybe some expert is feeding him bogus information. My take is the offense is definitely Alabama’s strong point, and Nick Saban’s defensive schemes will provide a young defense the ability to be effective quickly. I think nine wins is on the low end, with the possibility of one more win. The current talent pool at the Capstone is better than the pundits think.
Nick Saban’s first year, as with all first years at Alabama, will be judged by some by whether he beats Auburn. How fair is that, and will it happen?
I disagree Saban has to beat Auburn in his first year for the season to be considered a success. If he wins nine or ten games, regardless of who he beats, most Bama fans should be pleased. The process of becoming a tough, disciplined football team is more important to future success. I think the Tide will have a better team than Auburn this year and end the streak.
Finally, Alabama’s 13th national championship, or Auburn’s first outright title: which happens first, and how long does it take?
Let’s get one thing straight: Auburn will never win a national championship. Typically, Tommy Tuberville chokes away a game or two every year. Besides, Auburn doesn’t get enough national respect to complete the task, and never will! Saban, on the other hand ,will recruit and teach his patented system to his players. Under Saban, Bama will win the national title in his third year. Alabama will win its 13th championship in 2009.