If legendary University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban needs any additional motivation to stick to sports — his Crimson Tide begins its national championship playoff run on New Year’s Day — it may have been supplied by Alabama voters on December 12. Despite considerable advance speculation that write-in votes for Saban might exceed the margin of victory between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore, preliminary results tabulated by Alabama news media indicated that the five-time national title winner finished well down the list of people who together registered about 22,000 votes. Given the choice of an alleged sex predator and [gasp] a Democrat, a fair number of people looked elsewhere, but not that many looked to the Overlord of Tuscaloosa.
Perhaps it was no surprise that sitting Senator Luther Strange, who lost the GOP nomination for the seat to Roy Moore, pulled the most write-in votes, at 5,822 (with quite a few counties left to report). Another former candidate, U.S. Representative Mo Brooks, who finished third in the first round of the GOP nominating contest, was the favorite of many hard-core conservatives who had issues with Moore; so it makes sense he’d get just under 1,000 votes. And Republicans looking for an alternative to Moore would naturally be drawn to the man who occupied the Senate seat for 20 years before becoming attorney general: Jeff Sessions, who received 267 votes in preliminary results.
But it was more shocking that Saban also received less support than write-in candidate Some Dude Lee Busby and also Libertarian Ron Bishop. Indeed, the coach that many Alabama fans dare compare to the godlike Bear Bryant basically finished tied for sixth with Chandra Mills Crutcher, a religious leader with a strong local following in Huntsville. As of this moment, Saban has received a distinctly mediocre 264 Senate votes. He did do better than arch-rival Auburn coach Gus Malzahn (whose team defeated the Crimson Tide this year in a bigger upset than Jones’s victory over Moore). But the poor showing was another setback for Saban that can only be redeemed by another national championship. Be forewarned, Alabama foes: Nick Saban has been disrespected.