BRANDON — When Kevin O'Donnell attended a Tony Dungy book signing in Lakeland two years ago, he took note of a couple of things.
He saw people lining up at 6 a.m. even though Dungy, the former Bucs and Indianapolis Colts coach, wasn't appearing until 9 a.m. And he remembers the store running out of books at 9:30 a.m. even though the signing was scheduled to run until noon.
On Saturday, Dungy comes to Ave Maria, the Christian book and gift store in Brandon that's owned by O'Donnell and his wife, Julie. The O'Donnells have taken steps to ensure a more orderly signing.
Fans who want to get an autographed copy of the coach's new book, Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance, should purchase it in advance at Ave Maria, 222 Bryan Road. Upon doing so, they will receive a ticket with a scheduled time to come to the store to see Dungy on Saturday.
Of course, that advice was offered at press time. By now, the store may very well be sold out. The O'Donnells said the telephone was ringing off the hook. They realize there is only so much they can do to manage a crowd when dealing with someone as popular as Dungy.
"He just draws people," said O'Donnell, a WTVT-Ch. 13 sports anchor and reporter. "People know that he's pure and genuine. He's not that typical celebrity. He stands for goodness, and people like to see that. It's a breath of fresh air."
Ave Maria also donated books to Nativity and St. Stephen Catholic churches, First Baptist of Brandon and Immanuel Lutheran.
"We really want to make this a community event," O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell said Dungy may be the biggest celebrity to ever come to Brandon, and he may not be far off. Dungy, who appeared on NBC's Super Bowl coverage, is concluding a two-week book tour that has taken him to New York, New Jersey and Indiana and seen him make appearances on a number of national television talk shows.
It's not surprising considering his first book, Quiet Strength, topped the New York Times' best-seller list. In Uncommon, the coach offers more lessons with a focus on "what it means to be a man of significance in a culture that is offering young men few positive role models."
Today, Dungy will appear in northern Hillsborough County from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Lifeway Christian Store in the Plaza at Citrus Park, 12689 Citrus Plaza Drive.