No college football city has been hit harder in the past month than Tuscaloosa.
That's why Alabama coach Nick Saban is impatiently waiting for the college football season to begin not only to provide a distraction to the city, but also to make it feel good again.
"I think they're two different things and I think we should look at them that way," Saban said during special radio broadcast of "Hey Coach Helping Out," from Bryant-Denny Stadium on Monday. "The season will be a lot of fun, and it will be an escape for a lot of people who have had a lot of heartbreak, through what they've been through with this storm, but we'll still be supporting, rebuilding and trying to help those who need it."
The radio show was used to raise funds for Alabama's Acts of Kindness Fund and other organizations to help with the relief following the tornadoes on April 27.
Sports Illustrated is also helping with the relief effort by bringing awareness to the destruction, including a cover shot of a tornado-ravaged street and former Alabama player Javier Arenas looking on. It's a poignant juxtaposition of Tuscaloosa and its beloved Tide and how the two need each other now more than ever.
But the city might need some foes, too.
Dennis Dodd, senior writer for CBSSports.com, proposed a charity football game in his column Tuesday morning. Rivals Alabama and Auburn, taking to the gridiron for a cause bigger than any rivalry and one that affects both cities, since Auburn also suffered damage from the storms.
From Dodd's column:
I'm not going to pretend to offer a solution to the suffering, maybe just a bit of healing. I checked with the NCAA about staging an August scrimmage between Alabama and Auburn to raise money for the tornado victims. The process is fairly simple. A request would have to be made to the NCAA Subcommittee on Legislative Affairs. NCAA staffers would kick it around and consider one-time relief from the rule that prohibits scrimmages in preseason practice.
The NCAA isn't saying whether such a thing would be allowed, or considered. There hasn't been much of a response from Alabama and Auburn. The issue basically is starting with this column, but I'm hoping it doesn't end here. The state of Alabama needs something good to happen. Douglas' death and the tornadoes reminded everyone there are things more important than what a lot of fans believe is the most important.
Saban shared Dodd's sentiment during the radio show Monday. The day before, Saban, more than 30 Alabama players and several other Alabama coaches and officials attended Douglas' funeral in Knoxville, Tenn. Before Douglas arrived at Alabama, he played at Tennessee and Arizona Western College. The Alabama contingent stood side-by-side with former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer and several of Douglas' former Tennessee teammates and teammates from Arizona Western.
"These things we're talking about are about people," Saban said. "It has nothing to do with where you went to school or who you're rooting for, how much passion you have when the game starts. It has nothing to do with that, it's about people and doing the right thing to support people regardless.
"Having great rivalries, there's nothing wrong with that either, but this is a great opportunity to keep those in perspective and keep them on the field."
Graham Watson is a regular contributor to Dr. Saturday. Follow her on Twitter: @Yahoo_Graham