Why Randy Martin’s granddaughter chose an Alabama football Saturday to get married this fall remains a mystery and source of frustration for him.
But she did, causing him to miss his beloved Tide whip up on some foe.
“I wasn’t real happy,” Martin said while shaking his head. “She should have got married on a Sunday. I can’t understand it.”
And why Stephanie Roarke’s first son decided to enter the world hours after Alabama’s humbling 2000 loss to Southern Miss still gives her wonder.
She was rushed to the hospital in her Alabama football attire.
“There’s a bunch of women who have almost had babies at Alabama games because we take it very, very seriously,” Roarke said.
The parking lot outside Hard Rock Stadium before Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinal contained as many of those sorts of stories as there were Alabama and Oklahoma license plates.
The problem was it was hard to distinguish one set of fans from the others, what with all the crimson. Crimson is the primary school color for Oklahoma and Alabama.
So there were crimson flags flying everywhere.
And the long lines leading to the portable toilets scattered strategically throughout the parking lot — lines that were already 20 long with beer-guzzling tailgaters three hours before opening kickoff — were solid walls of crimson.
But there was no confusing loyalties, no when one examined the logos on caps and T-shirts and sat down with fans to hear their stories, understand what it is that possesses them.
Take 79-year-old Ken Kendrick of Summerdale, Alabama.
The retired dentist was an undergraduate at Alabama in 1961 when Paul “Bear” Bryant won his first national championship there. Kendrick hasn’t missed a game — home or away — in 35 years.
The streak would be longer if not for years he spent on the West Coast designing underground missile silos before returning home to perform root canals and fill teeth.
“I used to have a big bus, with Alabama football pictures on it, and all that,” Kendrick said. “But now we go to the games in little motor home.”
Kendrick flew down to South Florida for Saturday’s game, though.
Not so Shaun Bowman of Tulsa, Okla., and Guy Fryhover of Yukon, Oklahoma.
They gathered their friends, hopped inside a couple of cars, and drove the 1,500 miles. They planned on waking up at 8 a.m. on Sunday to make the return trip.
Why so quickly? With such little sleep?
“We have to be back to go to work so we can fly to California on Friday,” Fryhover said, already anticipating an Oklahoma victory and a CFP championship showdown against Clemson in Santa Clara, California, on Jan. 7
The Sooners were 14-point underdogs to top-ranked Alabama in Saturday’s Orange Bowl.
That didn’t concern Bowman and Fryhover in the least.
“Four years ago at the Sugar Bowl, Oklahoma was a 17 1/2-point underdog to
Alabama,” Bowman said. “And we beat them by 14.”
Fryhover added: “Grown men cried that day. I was one of them. It was tears of joy.”
Winning isn’t exactly old hat for either football program.
But neither does it ever get old.
“We used to go watch them get their teeth get kicked in,” Roarke said, recalling some seasons way back when, when the Crimson Tide wasn’t nearly the juggernaut it is now. “So I will enjoy every win and never get tired of it, because I took my very pregnant self to a game and stayed the entire game.”
And then, after all that, had a son who grew up to become a Mississippi State fan.