Happy New Year! It is only fitting that the first review of 2022 is on a team that was a major performer on the last day of the old year, the Alabama Crimson Tide. This book on their 2020 championship is much more important for reading that just the football success. Here is my review.
Title/Author: “We Want ‘Bama! Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide’s Decade of Dominance” by Joe Goodman
Rating: 3 ½ of 5 stars (good)
Review: Just like everything else, the year 2020 saw major disruptions in college football. However, one thing that didn’t change was the dominance of the Alabama Crimson Tide and another national championship for them and coach Nick Saban. This book by Joe Goodman on that squad is quite different than any other book written about a particular team or season – which I guess would be quite fitting for anything about 2020.
This book does have some review of the games and highlights of that season for the Crimson Tide, but that is not how this book is structured – indeed, it seems to jump all over the place, but underlying that is one central theme that was that, to the author and after reading this book to this reviewer as well, the Alabama football team’s march and other means of communication about racial injustice made a much louder impression than anything they accomplished on the football field. Goodman made this point in several different ways – through highlighting the activism of players like Chris Owen Najee Harris and Alex Leatherwood, who wrote a powerful song/poem that was recorded by him and many teammates. It was quite moving to just read it and see how a college football team would come together during this summer of unrest in 2020.
While most of the book has a serious message, whether football or racial equality, Johnson throws in plenty of humor and sarcasm as well as uncomfortable truth in this book. This is especially true when he talks about how important Alabama football is to the students, the university and the bank accounts of the university. He will often end sections about these topics with the phrase “Roll Tide!”, the cheer for the football team yelled by fans. I thought that was a nice touch to illustrate his message.
While this book did seem to jump around on topics and at times, I had to re-read passages to figure out whether Goodman was being serious or sarcastic, it is one that really should be read by those who are unfamiliar with the history of racial injustice in Alabama as well as those who are either Alabama fans or wish to understand just how important the Crimson Tide football team is to the state. It is also a great look into the detail of Nick Saban and his recruiting success that is the ultimate reason for Alabama’s continuing success.
I wish to thank Grand Central Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.