I have spent a lifetime communicating with real Alabama fans. No, I am not writing about the graduates of the biggest Law School in the state. I am writing about the fans I see wearing Alabama hats and belt buckles on job sits and in mechanics shops.
The Alabama fan base is unique as is the University itself. They have one of the poorest fan bases, in terms of income, in the nation. They also rank as one of the least formally educated fan bases in the nation.
This is a group of fans that was largely educated with the hard knocks of every day life. They are also one of the most loyal fan bases that exist. Just a tour around the University of Alabama will tell you quickly just how much power these fans hold.
The nicest building on the campus by far is the football stadium. It is second to none in the nation. The walk of fame is littered with statues of some of the most famous football coaches of all time, not graduates of the University that moved on to do great things.
It took years to build the new engineering complex. It had to wait for renovations to the football stadium and an outdoor training facility for the football team. This is a true football University.
The very existence of the University rest upon the success of the football team, most of the state legislature are Alabama football fans. There is plenty of proof of this when you look at state funding in successful football years when compared to unsuccessful football years in the same period.
All of this is due to the power of the Alabama football fan. Most of them do not have the financial means to attend any university. They certainly don’t care if someone else does. They spend their time struggling to get through the week.
They know that the University is a necessary expense to allow them their one true passion, Alabama Football. This is where they draw their pride and identity. It is the one thing that they can point to and know that they can compete with the best.
They will accept nothing but the best. They intend to be at or near the pentacle of college football every year. Having a winning record is not good enough. The record must compare with the very best.
They know their hard earned money is paying for scholarships so that these players might aspire to higher education. They expect for them to realize this and put out an effort that shows their appreciation.
They get disappointed and filled with scorn when anyone connected to their football team breaks rules, takes short cuts and takes the easy path. Why should they tolerate such, no one ever gave them an easy path.
They spend many Saturdays having to listen to their beloved team on the radio while they work. They spend much of the precious spare time they have talking, writing, and researching about their team. These are the Alabama fans that have the true power.
This is what has pushed Alabama football to be great since its inception. This is what will make Alabama football fanatically competitive every year. This is why the Alabama football program is such a great rival to have.