I understand that the media blitz around Coach Saban was unprecedented in the history of college football, and it swayed a lot of opinions towards the negative concerning 'Bama and her fans.
I remember I couldn't even find out what channel the Sugar Bowl between LSU and ND was on that year. All that was on television was coverage of Coach Saban coming to Alabama. He arrived in Tuscaloosa the same day of the game.
ESPN was having hour after hour after hour of non-stop coverage of it, roundtable discussions with hosts turning beet red and spittle flying out as they screamed that it was wrong for Coach Saban to come to Alabama. ESPN even had a sports psychologist on trying to determine what made men like Coach Saban into liars.
This is the thing: They spent so many weeks explaining why Saban would never, ever, ever come to the squalid pit that they described Tuscaloosa as being, it bruised their pride when he did.
Sportswriters around the country were busy mocking 'Bama fans and explaining, in column after column, why a man in a modern city would never come to a backwater hole filled with toothless rednecks and uneducated, irrational fans.
At ESPN, many times their shows ended with a big, collective chuckle by hosts wearing five thousand dollar suits as they dismissed the has-been program of the Crimson Tide as the last place Coach Saban would ever coach at.
I heard one start grunting in a low guttural groan, saying, "Coach Saban had already said he wasn't going to 'Bama—why do those crazy people still have hope that he is going to come there?"
His advice was for us to move on, accept that we are a has-been program that could never hope to draw a talent such a Coach Saban, get over it, stop being crazy. I think his last brilliant statement before signing off was this: Why would Saban go to a place like Alabama where he can't even recruit top-notch players?
See, there is a lot of regional bias and bigotry directed towards the South, Alabama to a much greater degree, by many in the media and rival fanbases. I feel that this hatred, this true dislike that they hold for Alabama residents, our state, and as a consequence, our team, was the driving force behind the firestorm.
That bitter type of ancient bigotry directed towards us, coupled with their preaching to the nation for over a month or so that Coach Saban had already made his mind up and wasn't coming to Alabama, left them feeling enraged when Saban did agree to become the coach of Alabama.
They felt they had been tricked, and it left them angry and out for vengeance. They had to bash and bash hard to make themselves feel better, to give themselves relief.
LIAR, LIAR, LIAR in bold letters flying off the presses faster than ink could be refilled. LIAR, LIAR, LIAR being spoken a million times by a million different sports talk show hosts on a million different programs.
Sports boards across the nation, from one end to the other, were lit up with ridicule and mocking of 'Bama fans by legions of fans from every team that anyone has ever heard of.
It was, honestly, a modern-day witch hunt—and if it had been legal, I feel some would have burned Coach Saban at the stake. That is just how deep their insanity had reached.
Something was eerily unsettling about what happened just that short while ago, something unprecedented and scary. It ran much, much deeper than just a coach putting out a false trail for the media to follow. That is something coaches have done for over a hundred years.
This was personal for many. Fanbase after fanbase turned against not only Coach Saban, but also against Alabama and her fans.
To this day, almost two years later, bitter and acrimonious sniping at and baiting of 'Bama fans continues unabated on more message boards and football related sites than can be counted. It is an odd and peculiar phenomenon.
The question that arises out of all of this is simple: Why?
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