Lisa Smith considered not being among the hundreds of Alabama fans descending on Academy Sports in Hoover. It was nearly midnight when she arrived and temperatures were freezing or below.
But the McCalla resident said she couldn’t miss it.
“This is too good not to come out,” she said. “I had to be a part of it. My family’s always been a big Roll Tide kind of family.”
The Alabama football team defeated No. 1 Clemson 45-40 Jan. 11, wrapping up national championship No. 16 in Glendale, Ariz. In Alabama, Tide fans were wrapped in scarves, hats and gloves to buy the latest national championship attire.
Academy, Dick’s and Hibbett sporting goods stores were more than willing to accommodate. Each advertised that its stores would open after Alabama won and throngs of fans showed up to shop late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
Joseph Smith of Hoover stood outside Dick’s in Patton Creek shopping center, watching the final minutes of the game on his smartphone. He headed inside the store after the Tide scored its final touchdown.
“I love Bama,” he said. “That’s my team. I knew they were going to win.”
Donta Lyles lives near the Stardome Comedy Club. She was anxious to be among the first in line.
“We’re avid Alabama fans,” she said. “We had to grasp the moment. I was absolutely confident. I was waiting for him (her husband, Geoffrey Lyles) to come out. I was sitting in the car three minutes before the game ended.”
The Lyles and others headed home with their gear after Academy employees ushered in the first group of patrons. Manager John Potts said they had to close the Monday business day and open for the next business day so sales would calculate properly.
The line outside would ultimately stretch to Salon 150 about 300 feet away. But jubilant fans were too gleeful to complain. Cars and trucks occasionally motored through the lot with horns honking and passengers bellowing “Roll Tide.”
Homewood’s Terance Bibb said he had a shorter trip to the store after this title than in the past.
“I was in Talladega the last two times and I was already on the road in the third quarter, heading to Birmingham,” he said. “This time, I had to wait until it was zero-zero. I would have been disappointed if there was nobody in line but me.”
Bibb said he didn’t lack confidence but he was among the Tide fans who remembered Longhorn quarterback Vince Young’s effort that brought Texas back against USC in 2005. His wife told Bibb he could leave for Academy after Alabama scored its last touchdown but he didn’t budge.
“‘I ain’t going nowhere,’” he recalled telling his spouse. “’If it’s not double-zeroes (on the clock), I ain’t going nowhere. It was a nervous game.”
Arthur Ayers of McCalla felt victory was assured as the clock wound down but he wanted to wait to hear from Tide coach Nick Saban. Even with a somewhat later arrival, he had to endure some tough conditions.
“Oh it’s a lot cold (but) I’ve got my Alabama sleeves on and I’ve got the A’s player gloves,” he said. “I had to get stuff for the whole family. There is no budget. Gotta buy ’em.”