With Easter on Sunday, University of Alabama fans are enjoying a sort of double-holiday weekend as the Crimson Tide will close this year’s spring practices with the annual scrimmage known as A-Day.
It’s almost as big as a home game in the fall, both in size and potential impact, as Tuscaloosa is similarly overrun. Some of the events corresponding with what happens inside Bryant-Denny Stadium are a fan fest, the walk-of-fame ceremony to honor last year’s captains, numerous autograph sessions, the third annual Chris Rogers Paintball Tournament for former players, golf tournaments, a charity basketball game with the Tuscaloosa Police Department and a whole lot of tailgating.
“This A-Day game, I look at a little bit like it's an exhibition game for our players and our team,” coach Nick Saban said. “It's an opportunity for them to go out and play a game-like circumstance, a game-like situation, and it's really your first opportunity as an individual, as a unit or as a team, to really create an identity for who you are and how you play, how you compete, the kind of effort you give, the kind of toughness you play with, the kind of discipline you have to execute. The ability to focus on the next play regardless of what happened on the last play.
“Those things are important, I think, in being able to compete through the tough circumstances and adversity that we have in our league and the tough teams and tough places to play.”
The coach is also looking for another big crowd, and although Alabama hasn’t had a six-figure turnout yet, it did reach capacity his first year at the Capstone in 2007, before the south end-zone stadium expansion was completed.
This year’s game is expected to be in the 80,000-to-90,000 range.
Before Saban, Alabama’s A-Day attendance record was 51,117, set in 1988. Only six other times had it attracted 35,000 or more fans.
However, in addition to being a big celebration for the fans, it’s also a huge recruiting tool for all of the athletic programs.
“We'll have a ton of people here that are guys we're looking at for the future, in terms of recruits, that can be very much impressed by the energy, enthusiasm and passion that we show in this game, and I think it's a tradition and something that we're very proud of and something that has helped the program tremendously,” Saban said. “I hope that we continue to show that kind of support for our team and the program. I think it's very, very beneficial.”
Alabama’s Biggest A-Day attendance