The very successful Head Coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team — Nick Saban — has been cleared to open a Mercedes-Benz dealership in the town of Birmingham, Alabama. After winning three NCAA National Titles for the Crimson Tide, Saban is one of the most popular and easily identifiable personalities in the great state of Alabama. Not since Coach Bear Bryant has a man won the hearts of the Tide in such a manner. This makes him virtually a “lead-pipe lock” for drawing in new customers and making the dealership an instant success.
Saban’s business partner in the proposed dealership is Joe Agresti who also owns a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After Agresti initially approached the German automaker with the idea, they issued a letter of intent to open the Birmingham dealership.
Shortly after the letter of intent was issued, long time (40-years) Birmingham, Alabama Mercedes-Benz dealership Crown Automotive filed a law suit (against Mercedes-Benz USA) claiming that by allowing a second Mercedes-Benz dealership to operate in Birmingham they would violate the terms of their franchise agreement.
No action was taken against the Coach or his partner but they were subpoenaed to gather all notes and e-mails on the subject and be ready to testify when court begins in the fall. Did he say in the in the fall? Don’t they know that the football season starts in the fall? The suit went on to further allege that news of the new dealership put the “hoo-doo” on a developing deal that would have allowed Crown to sell its store to an unnamed competitor; causing the buyer to back out in light of the eminent presence of a second franchise in the “Pittsburgh of the South.”
Late on Friday, August 22, 2014, Coach Nick Saban’s attorney issued a public statement saying that Crown Automotive and Mercedes-Benz USA had reached a confidential out-of-court settlement. Under the terms of the new agreement, the new proposed dealership of Agresti and Saban (or do you think it will be the other way around?) to go forward. In an e-mail sent late Friday from Mercedes-Benz representative Donna Boland she wrote, “Our feeling, then and now, is that the goodwill the coach brings with him, Joe Agresti’s business acumen and the enthusiasm they both have for this dealership, is going to make for a very successful enterprise.”
Undoubtedly, getting this issue settled is a huge relief for Coach Saban. If this issue had gone forward, he could have been expected in court on November 3. That is only days before the huge Southeastern Conference matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Louisiana State University Tigers. With stress levels being almost unbearable at Saban’s level of coaching it is probably a good thing that this got rectified, early.