Alabama coach Nick Saban has seen the empty seats around Bryant-Denny Stadium, and he doesn't like it.
During a news conference on Wednesday night, Saban took aim at the student section, which he said was only half full during Saturday's 56-14 home win over Louisiana-Lafayette.
"I can honestly say I was a little disappointed there weren't more students at the last game," Saban told reporters in Tuscaloosa. "I think we're trying to address that. I don't think they're entitled to anything, either. Me, personally, I think it ought to be first-come, first-serve. If they don't want to come to the game, they don't have to come. But I'm sure there's enough people around here that would like to go to the games, and we'd like for them to come too because they support the players."
A few players, including long-snapper Thomas Fletcher, took to Twitter to echo Saban's frustration with the empty seats in Bryant-Denny Stadium's student section.
Must be nice to have people come to your home games https://t.co/Dbf7dHDNXB— Thomas Fletcher (@longsnapfletch) September 30, 2018
Attendance has been a pet peeve of Saban's in recent years. His mini-rant on Wednesday came out of left field when he was asked about the support fans have shown for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, not the capacity of the student section.
In 2013, Saban said that if his players are asked to compete for 60 minutes then "you should stay there and support the team for the game." He said that recruits are there and "we like to see a full stadium."
But as Alabama keeps winning, it seems that fans have become less inclined to attend lower-profile games such as Saturday's, which matched the Crimson Tide against a Group of 5 opponent.
"When I first came here, you used to play that tradition [video] thing up there and everybody was cheering and excited and happy and there was great spirit," Saban said. "Now, they don't even cheer. They introduce our players and nobody even cheers. So I don't know, maybe there's something else somebody else ought to talk about. Maybe I shouldn't talk about it. Maybe I already talked about it more than I should."
As AL.com noted, the Louisiana-Lafayette game had an early kickoff at 11 a.m. CT Saturday on parents weekend on the Tuscaloosa campus.
Saban said that the players "work too hard" and "deserve to have everything and people supporting them in every way."
"There's a part of it where other people need to support them too, and there's got to be a spirit that makes it special to play here, because that's what makes it special to be here," Saban said. "And if that's not here, then does it continue to be special to be here or not? That's the question everybody has to ask. I'm asking it right now.
"So, I'm hopeful. We've always had great people travel on the road for us and had great spirit on the road. We have great fans. So, I appreciate that. But to see half the student section not full, I've never seen that since I've been here before."
No. 1 Alabama goes on the road to Arkansas this Saturday.
Fans will then have their chance to try to fill Bryant-Denny Stadium the following weekend when the Crimson Tide host Missouri.