A Rising Tide: Saban's Wins Spell Success for City and State
The economic effects of Coach Nick Saban’s unparalleled success in Alabama football has been almost immeasurable to the town of Tuscaloosa.
Alabama football is a way of life. It's part of the culture, not only of the university, the city of Tuscaloosa, but the state of Alabama. I've never seen fans like we have at Alabama. Athletics, in general, and football, in particular, are part of the DNA of the University of Alabama. Every Saturday that there is a home game, you know what you're doing. And you just instantly get the feeling that this place is just a notch above your typical Saturday game day in the United States. You know, Dr. Robert Witt who was then former chancellor and former president of the University of Alabama said on 60 Minutes one time that Nick Saban was the greatest investment that the University of Alabama had ever made. If you look at it in terms of a return on investment, what Nick Saban has been able to do for the football program, for the overall athletic program, for the University of Alabama brand, and for the state of Alabama, it's almost immeasurable. A typical home football game, for example, has an economic impact in the state of about $25 million. The vast majority of that is felt right here in the Tuscaloosa metro area. The city of Tuscaloosa, which is the fifth largest city in the state of Alabama, instantly becomes the largest city in the state of Alabama on a Saturday game day. That tells you the sheer volume of people that come to town. He's helped elevate the brand of the University of Alabama, which we think has a direct correlation in helping grow the student population. Which in turn has helped increase economic activity in Tuscaloosa and in Alabama. The growth of the university from 19,000 in 2003 to 35,500 today has been pretty dramatic in a short period of time. Students at the University of Alabama spend almost half a billion dollars outside of the campus walls, so that's been a huge benefit to the community over the years. And so as the student population grows, as the faculty and staff grows, as a result of that, we will continue to see the direct economic impact continue to expand. He's a rockstar. He's taken a football program that was, I wouldn't say in dire straits, but was not nearly as successful as it had been in the under Bear Bryant or Gene Stallings. And taking it from the first or second floor to the penthouse. Not only had he improved our football program, he improves everything that he touches. And he wants everything that he touches to be the best. To see what he does with players and when they come in as a freshman, and the way he coaches them and mentors them, never lets them settle in any shape, form, or fashion, that will last with those players for the rest of their lives. You hear them talking about it now even while they're still playing for him. Coach Saban really expects us to uphold the standards in all aspects of our lives. So whether it's being on time for class or helping out in the community, or just being the person that people can look up to and things like that. So that's just-- that's who he is for us, so he wants us to be like that for other people. Just how he demands excellence, and the standard that he expects us to play to and the men that he expects us to be, I think it never changes. I think that's what makes him who he is. When you think of the University of Alabama, you think of Tuscaloosa. And when you think of Tuscaloosa, you think of the University of Alabama. You can't really separate the two. So it's almost impossible to imagine what this community would be like without the university. It wouldn't be what it is today, I can tell you that. The university is the backbone of the city. A huge part of it for me is that bond of Alabama football. It could be the wealthiest man in the world, and the guy that saved 10 years to get a ticket, and they share something common and they share something steep in tradition and history, and that's their bond. They can sit down in that situation and coexist all because of the love of Alabama football. Roll tide. Roll tide. Roll tide.