AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Finally, this hour, a different wife and a different religion - at least, for some people, football is almost a religion. And commentator Monique Fields married into it. When she said "I do," she knew she had a choice: Spend much of the football season alone, or convert to Alabama football.
MONIQUE FIELDS, BYLINE: Let me tell you about the day my husband bolted in the room and asked: Are you free for lunch on September 21st? It was the middle of July, and I'm not Oprah. Usually, I can be booked for lunch at a moment's notice. But I played along. I flipped through my virtual calendar, scrolled down to the very date in question, gave it a good stare.
Yep, I'm open. Good, Ken said, because I got us tickets to see Coach Saban. That's right, our important date was with Nick Saban, the man who has coached the University of Alabama football team to two national championships in the last three years. Nick at Noon is held on Fridays before home football games for donors who pay $50 for a buffet and a chance to hear the coach speak and ask him a few questions. Goodbye summer, hello college football.
The "hubs'' has long considered himself an unofficial, unpaid member of the coaching staff. If that's the case, then I am his unofficial, unpaid assistant. I got the job 11 years ago, when I said I would love, honor and cherish football Saturdays; attend football games while richer or poorer; and support Alabama football, whether the program is on or off NCAA probation. Being a fan's wife is that serious.
My husband has held season tickets for 27 years. And if you get on the waiting list today, you'll be lucky if you can take your grandkids to the game. Once, when Ken was considering his mortality, he told me he wanted me to have the tickets. No problem, I told him. There's this little thing called community property, and I assured him that if anything ever happened to him or me, I would keep the tickets in the family. Roll Tide!
Unofficial, unpaid assistants, like myself, know when to encourage players from the stands. Let's go, 'Bama! We know how to scream at the television, or otherwise throw an absolute and total fit, when something doesn't go our way. We also know how to boo the officials. It's what assistants do.
Assistants can analyze a play with the best of them. If we're within inches of the goal line, it's better to run the ball. If we've got a few yards, it's best to throw the ball. The point is to protect the ball, move it down the field and when all else fails, kick the thing through the uprights.
Oh, yeah, I will be at the Nick at Noon luncheon; armed with a question or two, just in case I feel the urge to get all chatty with the coach, and give him my - I mean, our suggestions for how best to pummel our opponents the next day. As the assistant, it's the least I can do, to make Coach Saban appreciate my husband's hard work.
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CORNISH: Commentator Monique Fields teaches - where else? - at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa. She blogs at Honeysmoke.com.
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