According to al.com, Alabama announced its full spring practice schedule this past Friday. (All practices will again be closed to the general public.)
Every position will be fought for, and every battle will be fierce. Nobody gives up a starting position without a fight, and nobody signs with Alabama just to ride the bench.
The Tide has had two full months to enjoy the most dominating championship victory in BCS history. On Friday, Nick Saban will begin reminding them that 2011's results have nothing to do with 2012.
He will begin reminding them that it's not the will to win that matters. It's the will to put forth the effort required to build the skill to win that ultimately makes the difference.
The biggest advantage of the 2012 spring practices is the addition of Doug Nussmeier. He is the QB coach who Jake Locker credits with improving his mental prowess at the position.
A change of command is never completely seamless, but Nussmeier should have a fairly easy transition into the role of offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at the Capstone. Saban is known for losing support staff to better positions with other teams, and this year will be no different.
Mar. 9 marks the first time Nussmeier will be able to start influencing A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims. The practices will end with the A-Day game. Fans likely have already marked Apr. 14 on their calendars, and it will be one of the best spring games of the Saban era.
There will be much less pressure on Sims and McCarron, since McCarron is almost locked into the starting role. It should be an offensively explosive game for both gunslingers, and Tide fans will come away with the utmost confidence in their offense.
The huge question mark entering the 2012 spring practices is whether the defense can grow up quickly enough to defend the Tide's title.
A smaller question (yet still a major one) is whether the offense can cover up the defense's mistakes while they gel.
Both of these questions are one milestone closer to being answered. Year-round die-hard Tiders can go ahead and cross "Spring Practice Begins" off their calendars this Friday.
Next stop: A-Day. It's closer than it feels. RTR!