- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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Another near-capacity crowd is expected to pile into Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday for the University of Alabama’s A-Day game, which will be Nick Saban’s sixth spring game since taking over as head coach for the Crimson Tide.
In his five previous seasons, Saban has compiled 55 victories and won two national championships, and he knows that his team’s success each year hinges on spring practice and the annual spring game.
“A lot of the success that we have had here is attributed to that great tradition, and every one of those individuals contributed to that,” Saban said.”We want this to be a great weekend for them, as well. I'm really looking forward to the game.”
“It's probably the closest thing to a game that we have until the opening game. We play it as close to a real game. We have the first offense on one team and the first defense on the other team, and they play against each other.”
On Saturday, the first-team offense, led by quarterback AJ McCarron, will be on the Crimson side, and the White squad will feature the first-team defense. As always, the winning team will get steaks while the losing team will be forced to eat beans.
With Alabama coming off another BCS Championship title, it’s no surprise that the Tide’s spring game will be broadcasted on both ESPN3 and CSS.
“I think the exposure is great,” Saban said. “Any time that there's any kind of exposure that benefits the players, gives the players exposure and the university and our team exposurre, I think it's a real positive. And we encourage that every opportunity we get.”
Scrimmaging other teams
The notion of teams playing other teams in the spring has been brought up this year, and the potential matchups could create some intriguing storylines. Can you imagine Alabama lining up against Auburn in April and what kind of attention that would bring?
However, Saban likes the current setup of spring practice and the spring game because it helps develop the players. It also does a better job of teaching the fundamentals because they don’t have to prepare for another team.
“I really like spring practice the way it is right now because you really don't play against another team,” Saban said. “You can really focus on trying to develop unknowns in your players, which I think is really important. I think that's the real value of spring practice.”
Still, he understands how exciting the possibility could be for the fans.
“I think it would be great for the fans, so I would be supportive of that part of it, if there was something in the spring where you played another team and everybody could come to the game and all that kind of stuff.”
Five UA players attending NFL draft
A record 26 players will attend the NFL Draft in New York later this month, including five from Alabama. The Tide contingent includes Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick, Trent Richardson and Courtney Upshaw.
The former UA stars have asked Saban to join them in New York, and the Alabama head coach plans to do everything he can to make it.
“It's a really great experience, and I'm happy that our players would like for me to be there,” Saban said. “I think it's great for our program.”
“When you look at all the first-round draft picks, there's some stats out there that we've had more than most and more juniors that have come out and been first-round draft picks than most, and certainly our share in the last three or four years.”
4dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough