April 13, 2009
Michigan had a nice turnout over the weekend, drawing 50,000 (or thereabouts) from neighboring shantytowns for a glimpse of the new-look Wolverines. When it comes to drawing multitudes for a virtually meaningless scrimmage, though, there is still no place like Alabama, where Nick Saban singlehandedly summoned 90,000 members of the flock in 2007, creating an air of positivity and enthusiasm that served the team not at all during the 6-6 disappointment that followed that fall. More than 78,000 returned last April; obviously, a rebuilding year for the faithful after the lackluster debut. (Also the weather was a little iffy.)
But lo, shall the mighty Saban, fount of positivity and good will, summon the multitudes yet again this Saturday, so that he and his disciples may feed not only off the ESPN spotlight, but also off good vibrations from the audience throughout the offseason:
"When you have positive energy, positive enthusiasm, positive attitude --- which we've had for two years --- you have a chance to bring out the best," Saban said, before his team took Easter weekend off. "And I think our season last year would reflect that. For 13 games, we had positive energy, positive enthusiasm, everybody had high interest. ... Our stadium in the Auburn game was probably as good as any place I've ever played or competed."
(Not at all like the morgue in Sanford Stadium before the Tide's win at Georgia last September). See, on the other hand, the deflated atmosphere around the team leading up to the Sugar Bowl, deepened by Andre Smith's late-breaking suspension, and the subsequent buzzkill (emphasis added):
"When we didn't have the same enthusiasm, the same energy, as a team, as an organization, as a group of fans --- which was the Sugar Bowl --- same people, same team, but played at a completely different level," Saban concluded. "That's a great lesson for all of us, in terms of, we know what we want to accomplish, everybody has a positive attitude and positive energy and knows what their role is."
"Supporting us in the spring game is certainly one of (the fans') roles that [can] be a positive for this program in a lot of ways," Saban said.
By everyone, Saban means everyone -- yes, you too, Tide fans, have a role ... a job ... let's just say a responsibility toward the team's ultimate success, and that responsibility is to turn a sleepy, almost entirely inconsequential spring scrimmage into Woodstock for the greater good of your team. Feel the love! And don't forget to clap! Clap so they can hear you!