NEW ORLEANS — Irma and Randall Coker know how to do a family trip.
The Coker clan, most of them from Collinsville, Ala., are in New Orleans to watch their beloved Alabama Crimson Tide play in the Sugar Bowl tonight.
Four generations — 38 folks in all — made the more than seven-hour trip from extreme northeast Alabama to Louisiana.
“Kids, grandkids, great-grandkids,” said Irma Coker, a nurse in Gadsden.
And they came in style — a charter bus.
Taking a cue straight out of Alabama coach Nick Saban’s playbook, Irma brushed off a reporter’s question about how much the trip cost.
“It’s a Christmas present,” one of the Cokers said.
Four of the five children are in the travel party and 16 of the 18 grandchildren. The only child missing is a daughter.
“That’s OK,” said Irma’s son Paul Coker. “She’s married to a Florida fan.”
Three of the Cokers are Alabama graduates, the rest are just die-hard fans.
“I bleed crimson,” Irma Coker said. “I will stand in the those stands tomorrow night, and tears will just roll down my face.”
Alabama and Utah play at 8 tonight in the Louisiana Superdome. Fox Sports will televise the Bowl Championship Series game.
While today is for football, Thursday was for fun in New Orleans.
Irma’s daughter, Terah Patt, a 1996 Alabama graduate and former athletic department hostess, did not hide her loyalty.
She wore a “Saban is Sexy” button, showing how she rates the Crimson Tide head coach.
The younger members of the family posed for pictures around lunchtime on Canal Street with reserve Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders.
So how did the Cokers become such ardent Alabama followers?
Irma pointed at her husband, Randall.
“You know, his aunt went to school with Bear Bryant,” she said.