By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama won another college football title on Monday night.
We can quibble over how many total titles the Crimson Tide has won over the years, but I think we can all agree that it’s a lot. Auburn has been no slouch, either, especially lately.
And those facts have always bothered me.
How is it possible, in this state where we do so much wrong, that we can’t draw from the lessons of the one thing we do so right?
There are reasons that college football in this state is so good, and those reasons have nothing to do with luck or divine intervention or special abilities that only people from Alabama possess.
Other states have good players. Other states have great colleges. Other states have smart people who they pay millions to be college football coaches.
There’s a reason.
In Alabama, we have invested in college football. We pay the coaches more. We build bigger stadiums and better facilities and put up 100-yard practice fields and build workout facilities with waterfalls for the players. We hire tutors and aides and all manner of on- and off-the-field coaches and assistants and trainers. We promote our teams and revere our players and we make double damn sure that no expense is spared when it comes to competing on the football field.
Because we know the simple truth: If the proper investment isn’t made — if we’re not sending private jets to scout the placekickers and backup linebackers — you wind up in the Belk Bowl playing in a game people are watching at an office Christmas party.
And that’s unacceptable.
So we do these things year after year, enjoy tremendous benefits, and then come early-January, when the confetti has fallen from the roof of some massive stadium where another of our teams has been crowned the best football team in the land, we retreat back into our homes that are taxed at the lowest rates in America, in a state with the lowest income tax rate in the country, in counties with criminally low millage rates for school funding and we wonder just why in the world the State of Alabama is so crummy.
It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
How is it possible that we can’t take these very obvious lessons from football and use them in the real world — on things like school funding or student advancement or infrastructure?
Has anyone in this state ever, for just a moment, stopped to wonder how it is that so many kids with football talent manage to not only escape the extreme poverty that wrecks the lives of most kids to attend college, but they also then graduate from college?
Ever wondered how that happens? Well, let me help you.
It happens because we secretly have known for decades that poor children require more attention and more guidance when it comes to staying on track with their education. When you’re just a simple poor kid, no one cares. But the moment you clock a 4.3-second 40-yard dash time and plant a QB like a geranium, people suddenly do care.
Suddenly that kid who would ordinarily flunk out or do just enough to get a bogus high school diploma is surrounded by counselors and coaches and boosters and college aides and tutors. He is taught structure and discipline, and more importantly, he learns that he can pass those classes.
And no matter what happens with that young man’s football life, there’s a better than average chance that he’ll wind up a productive, employed and happy citizen as an adult.
Because we were invested.
The same thing goes for this state’s infrastructure. It’s no different than the facilities college coaches use to lure recruits to campus. Our bridges, roads, broadband access and rivers should be the tools that attract businesses to the state, not multi-million dollar tax giveaways.
But to get those tools, we need investment from the boosters — the taxpayers — to make the improvements.
It doesn’t seem like a hard thing to figure out.
At Alabama, Auburn, UAB and Troy, the lessons have been rather clear: If you invest in your people, recognize and properly reward the contributions of everyone up and down the ladder, invest in the infrastructure necessary, success is almost guaranteed.