Alabama beat the shit out of the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. By the end of the first quarter the Crimson Tide had a 28-point lead; by the end of the half it was 49. Louisiana scored a couple of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but by that time they were already down 56 points. Alabama gained 608 total yards to Louisiana’s 288. It was not a serious football game.
Bryant-Denny Stadium holds 101,821 spectators. It should neither surprise nor offend you to learn that there were not 101,821 people in attendance for this farce. In fact there were many thousands of empty seats, representing many thousands of Alabama football fans who had better things to do with their Saturday than schlep to a stadium to watch the ritual sacrifice of a Group of Five program.
It’s satisfying to lay this entirely at the feet of a program as powerful as Alabama scheduling a tomato can like Louisiana-Lafayette in a game with absolutely no hope of producing a legitimately competitive contest. But it’s also undeniably true that Bama fans are probably spoiled by Saban’s teams’ sustained excellence like few other programs’ fans could ever be—fans of, say, Rice would be fucking thrilled to show up for a guaranteed 42-point win over just about anyone.
At any rate, Saban swerved during a Wednesday night press conference, when asked about fans embracing Tua Tagovailoa, and went on a tangent about Alabama students and what he sees as a lack of support:
“I can honestly say I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more students at the last game. And I think we’re trying to address that. I don’t think they’re entitled to anything, either. And me personally, I think it ought to be first come, first serve, and if they don’t want to come to the games they don’t have to come. But I’m sure there’s enough people around here that like to go to the games, and we’d like for them to come, too, because they support the players.”
Saban said that even the fans who do show up no longer cheer enthusiastically enough when players are announced, and that they’re being let down by a lack of excitement and spirit among Bama fans:
Look, our players work too hard, and they deserve to have everything, and people supporting them in every way, and have tremendous spirit for what they’ve done. And they may not be able to continue to do it—we’re gonna work hard to try to continue that—but there’s a part of it that other people need to support them, too, and there’s gotta be a spirit that makes it special to play here, because that’s what makes it special to be here. And if that’s not here, then does it continue to be special to be here or not? I mean that’s the question everybody’s gotta ask.
Saban is nearly always cranky about something, be it scheduling or pants or summer camps or perfectly reasonable questions. Bama fans will have their chance to prove their loyalty and undo the hurt caused by their absence when the Crimson Tide host Missouri on October 13. You’ve been warned.