The theme of this post applies mostly to Alabama Football fans. But it does not suggest that Alabama Crimson Tide fans of other sports are less loyal or less passionate. And it certainly does not mean the achievements of other Alabama Crimson Tide teams are less special or less commendable.
Whatever format of segmenting teams is chosen – from the entire FBS to just Power Five teams, to a select few elite teams, no college football program is equal to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Several years ago, former Auburn head coach (and former Alabama Crimson Tide assistant) Pat Dye said, “Alabama fans love Alabama football – Auburn fans love Auburn.” No offense to the late coach but there are many Alabama football fans who love the University of Alabama and are staunch followers of other Crimson Tide sports.
A couple of years before his death, Dye riled many Auburn fans when he contrasted the Alabama and Auburn programs,
we could play football for another 500 years and we wouldn’t catch up with the tradition Alabama has got
Perhaps it as easy to be a Clemson Tiger fan as it is to be an Alabama Crimson Tide fan. If so, that statement can only apply to the last several seasons.
The big difference for Alabama Football is every generation, going back to the Rose Bowl heroics under Crimson Tide, Head Coach, Wallace Wade, has an expectation of contending for National Championships. First Wade, then Frank Thomas built an indoctrination for future generations of Alabama football fans. One reason Paul Bryant was brought back to Tuscaloosa was to win National Championships.
Bryant delivered in a big way and the six National Championships in the Bryant era cemented fan and program expectations to contend for a National Championship every season. Nick Saban was chosen as the Tide head coach in 2007 for the clear purpose of rekindling Crimson Tide championship flames. Everyone knows the history since.
How different it must be for fans in Starkville, Lexington, Nashville, the two Columbias – for that matter, every other SEC school. LSU won it all in 2019 and earned two other Nattys in 2003 and 2007. Nick Saban was directly responsible for 2003 and indirectly responsible for the Bengal Tigers 2007 Championship. From 1958 (first LSU Natty) until 2003 was not far from a half-century wait for the Tigers.
Florida had two flashes of brilliance under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer. Since Bryant’s sixth and last National Championship in 1979, other than the seven Crimson Tide National Championships, and the combined seven won by LSU and Florida, the SEC has had only slight success.
Georgia won in 1980, with none since. Tennessee won it all in 1998 and has steadily declined since. Auburn is the only somewhat recent exception, with the Tigers 2010 Championship. How hard it must be for Georgia, Tennesee and Auburn fans who are made miserable by Crimson Tide success.
It must be even worse for the fans of other SEC teams, who if sober and honest, must face limited horizons of success season after season. The staunchest of them are to be commended for their capacity to suspend reality and conjure up dreams of success every offseason.
It is so much easier and so much more fun to be an Alabama Football fan. Especially in the Nick Saban era.