Brilliant PR move or just plain funny? Both.
(This post was originally published in September, 2010 — 9 months
after Saban’s first national championship at Alabama)
I remember the last time people really hated The Crimson Tide. And not just around the Southeastern Conference, but all over the country. It was about 30 years ago—the last time, until this year, that the words Alabama and Dynasty were used, straight-faced, in the same sentence.
That’s why, as a Bama fan, I’ve recently become concerned about the sheer volume of positive media exposure Nick Saban has generated in the past nine months. Between the national championship game, the countless repetitions of his iconic Built Ford Tough commercial, ESPN’s hour-long “Training Days” documentary and his feature-length theatrical documentary, it was really starting to feel like Coach needed to shut the door to his office and politely decline any further media exposure for a while. Maybe a good long while.
At least that’s what I would have recommended he do, in hopes of heading-off the backlash that comes when the public inevitably develops the sense that one of its “heroes” is getting a little too big for his britches. Saban and the fine folks in the University’s Media Relations department took another tack. They put him in a TV spot that does exactly what his detractors have wanted to do for years: Bring him down the proverbial peg or two.
Associate Athletics Director of Football Communications Jeff Purinton reports that ESPN’s creative team presented their ideas for promo spots to run in advance of tomorrow’s “College Gameday” broadcast from Tuscaloosa. “I liked them and coach didn’t have any problem with them, so that’s what we shot.”
As further evidence that Nick Saban actually is human, Purinton notes that the spot required “multiple, multipe takes. I lost count.” He did not mention how Coach’s gut felt afterward.
(Extra special thanks to Purinton for taking the time to return my call this morning, less than 24 hours before the first College Gameday broadcast in Tuscaloosa since 2007. Just goes to show that Barney Fife was right: “The bigger they are, the nicer they are.”)