Published on August 22, 2023 by Marshal Wyatt Smith  
Bryant Denny Stadium action
Photo by Joshua M. Pettie, with permission.

If you know Alabama football, you know that fans have become immune to success and expect a championship team at the beginning of each season. This expectation has made fans become disappointed in anything but perfection, which has created noted animosity between Coach Saban and those fans that want nothing but 63-0 blowouts.

Those original Bama fans (like me) know that Alabama is nowhere near those days of Mike Shula and the years where 9 wins meant a good season. Alabama has been ranked in the Top 10 of the AP Poll for 12 years straight, besides two weeks in 2015 (after a loss to Ole Miss and the legendary Bo Wallace), which was the year Alabama went on to claw their way back and finish as National Champions - winning 45-40 in Phoenix for the first installment of the modern era Clemson vs. Alabama rivalry behind O.J. Howard and company.

Let’s put this in perspective. Just over 15 years ago, Alabama was playing in the Independence Bowl in back-to-back years, where in the previous year, they got handed a loss at the hands of Oklahoma State on a last-minute field goal - which gave the Tide a sub-.500 record to end the season. While the Tide squeaked by in 2007 against Colorado 30-24 for Nick Saban’s first bowl victory in Crimson; there was work still to be done … but all fans didn’t expect a National Championship.

However, Alabama fans have become spoiled because ever since that pre-season poll in ‘08 after Saban’s Independence Bowl win, Alabama has not fallen out of the Top 25 in the AP Poll.

Alabama’s 5-year average attendance (minus 2020) was 100,988 with the lowest year in attendance being 2021 (post-Covid). This is intuitive because 1.) health reasons and 2.) people could watch the game at home without having to travel to Tuscaloosa. While 2022 saw a .26% increase in attendance from 2021; the numbers have not returned to normal just yet. Now that the Tide has games of “suspense” and will be 3 years removed from Covid; attendance will likely hit decade highs and mirror 2018 numbers in attendance.

While I’m not saying fans shouldn’t expect good things; these unrealistic expectations sometimes need to be put in check. The old adage, “a loss was the best thing to ever happen” or “that loss gave us a wake-up call” is true. Not just for the team, but fans alike. Alabama fans have become so immune to the Tide’s winning ways, that they expect greatness all the time. However, one must keep in mind that these guys are 18–22-year old’s who are putting millions of people on their backs. They aren’t robots. They are real people, with real emotions, and sometimes people mess up. In the words of Cody Johnson, “Human”.

The reason I say this “losing streak” (and I use the term lightly) is beneficial for the Tide is due to what sports is all about. We, as fans, don’t know the outcome of the games, and that’s what makes sports so great. Uncertainty is what keeps sports engaging. This is the exact opposite of what Alabama did in 2018 and 2020 (minus a few games). It was all but a given that Alabama would win. Now that there is some uncertainty with a “whopping” two losses last season … those “marginal” (as we like to say in sports business) Alabama fans have more reason to pay attention and see if their team can pull out the victory.

Besides, who doesn’t love an underdog.



2022 FBS Attendance Trends: College Athletics News: D1 ticker. D1. ticker | College Athletics News. (2022, November 28). 

Football. Alabama AP Football Poll Summary | College Poll Archive. (n.d.). 

Meadows, T. and Lane, T. (2021). Human [Recorded by C. Johnson]. Human: The Double Album [CD]. Nashville, TN. Warner Music Nashville. (2021)

Pettie, J. (2022). Bryant-Denny. Photograph. 

Wikimedia Foundation. (2023a, August 20). 2006 Independence Bowl. Wikipedia. 

Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, August 20). 2007 Independence Bowl. Wikipedia. 

About the Author

Marshal W SmithMarshal W. Smith graduated from Samford University in December of 2021 and is currently pursuing his M.B.A. with a concentration in Sport Business here at Samford. He would like to stay at Samford and teach Sports Business, Marketing or Analytics, or work for a major sports franchise in marketing or data analytics. Here is a link to his LinkedIn profile: