Some 18 months after Nick Saban was hired as head football coach at Alabama, the coach's rock star status among UA fans seemingly hasn’t diminished.
So was the treatment as Saban spoke and signed autographs during a luncheon at the Scottsboro-Goose Pond Civic Center on Wednesday.
He spoke to some 200-plus Tide fans for more than 37 minutes, discussing the program’s progress, the plan for progress and the fans’ part in its potential success.
“If we’re going to have success,” Saban said, “it’s important that we are a team. That’s everybody (players, coaches and administrators). Our fans are a part of that.
“Crimson Tide is a name known nationally, (standing) for tradition and pride. (The fans’) positive attitude and positive energy are going to effect that.”
Saban lauded the fans show of support in ways such as A-Day game attendance. More than 92,000 attended Saban’s first spring game in 2007 and 80,000-plus turned out for this year’s A-Day game in April.
“That 92,000 at the spring game benefited us more than anything in recruiting,” Saban said.
Alabama’s incoming recruiting class was ranked as the nation’s best by several recruiting services, and the potential impact those freshman might make this fall has been a hot topic for Tide fans.
But don’t expect Saban to join the discussion.
Saban said naming names creates only added pressure and could hurt a player’s confidence if that predicted early success doesn’t come.
“It’s not fair,” Saban said, “let the guy create his own expectations.
“Now we think guys are going to go from the high school prom to the SEC and expect them to change the game. Some do, but it’s unfair to put those expectations on them.”
As for expectations, Saban knows what they are at Alabama, adding his are on the same wavelength.
“I wouldn’t want to coach anywhere where there aren’t expectations, but we’ve got to be realistic,” he said.
“We expect to win a national championship (someday), but we expect to go through the obstacles it takes to get there.”