When the football film “The Blind Side” arrived in theaters on November 20, 2009, several college coaches added a new title to their resumes, actor. Phil Fulmer (formerly of the University of Tennessee), Lou Holtz (acting as his South Carolina-self) and Tommy Tuberville (as the coach of Auburn, not Texas Tech) were just a few who made cameos in the film, but who could forget Alabama coach Nick Saban?
Good ole’ Nick.
In the story, Saban played the head coach of LSU because that was the institution who signed his checks back in 2005 when he was recruiting left-tackle Michael Oher. If you read the book, author Michael Lewis describes in detail how coifed Saban was when he arrived at Oher’s home, wearing Gucci loafers and complimenting the window décor. Compared to the coach’s public persona, this was certainly the softer-side of Saban.
So perhaps that icy-steel visage we witnessed at the end of the 2010 BCS Championship Game was carefully crafted to combat that suave character? I’ll never forget watching Saban during the final moments of that victory looking as if he was about to march in a funeral. The guy never emitted a modicum of joy during the Gatorade bath or trophy ceremony.
Who is Nick Saban? A southern charmer or heartless general?
On August 27, 2010 movie-goers can find out because Flashlight Media Group (the same people who brought you the five-DVD set on Alabama football called “Defining Moments”) will release the documentary film “Nick Saban Gamechanger.”
Saban is going to metaphorically undress for the cameras and allow unfettered access to his life, both as a man and a coach. Grab your popcorn!
Evidently, Saban allowed a three-member crew to tape staff meetings, locker room sessions and gatherings at his home for the sake of film documentation, although producer Grant Guffin* did say they shut down production “in deference to the situation and to be respectful,” but I think that’s code for “Nick told us to get out.”
*Producers Grant Guffin and Trey Reynolds, the two men who comprise the Flashlight Media Group, are both Birmingham natives and alums of the University of Alabama.
It should come as no surprise that the film is licensed and copyright-protected by the University of Alabama and sponsored by Coca-Cola and Ford. Additionally, “Gamechanger” will only be released in 27 cinemas in three different states including Alabama, Florida and Georgia. (I’m guessing that market research discovered low interest in the state of Louisiana.)
Wow. Is this the next move in athletic department exploitation? Forget HBO and “Hard Knocks,” let’s just allow obsessed alums to direct documentaries about their favorite teams and let universities secure sponsorship and market it to lunatic fans for $12 a ticket!
I have not seen the film, so I cannot comment on the content or quality of production, but I’d be interested to see how often players make an appearance on the screen. It’s clear that Saban is making a penny off this feature, but how many other bystanders in his office (other than the University of Alabama) profit from this adventure? Obviously the players can’t, but do the assistant coaches get a cut for being filmed during staff meetings? Did they even have a choice in the matter?
I suppose it is one thing for a professional film crew to cut a deal with a pro-sports team, who pay their players and coaches thousands, to tape practice and meetings, but is it wise to do this in an amateur setting? Is a documentary film about college football opening the floodgates for similar projects? As a major fan of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” even I’m not sure I want them invading the sanctity of the collegiate world.
I doubt the Senator would have allowed such shenanigans in his office, but then again Tressel hasn’t gone Hollywood…yet.