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Independence Day followed closely by ramp up of Alabama football

Fourth of July signals college football just ahead

Today is the United States of America’s day, even if there are days when it seems we are more divided than we are united. That is not the case. In the big picture we are all Americans, mostly recognizing and all believing in the best things about our country. Many years ago I wrote a story about the influence of foreign athletes on the success of various Alabama teams. A fellow sportswriter, and good friend of mine, took issue with The University of Alabama giving scholarships to foreigners. I told him that all of us and/or our ancestors came to this country and this state from somewhere else at some time. My belief in the rightness has been solidified by many friends I have made who came to the USA through the Crimson Tide’s athletics scholarships, friends who have stayed and become as American as any of us.

Certainly, we are an opinionated bunch, and that’s a big part of what makes us what we are. Interestingly, we compartmentalize our agreements and disagreements, perhaps having voted differently in the election, but cheering together for our favorite sports teams.

Today, we will see far more American flags than those of any college. It is a holiday, of course, time at the beach or the lake or the mountains or in the backyard around a smoking grill. Hopefully, you are as fortunate as I am in having friends and family around. During this holiday spirit I suspect all of us, even if just for a moment, will see Old Glory fluttering and think of the history of Independence Day, and “What a great country!”

As we come to the Fourth of July, we come closer to the 11th season in which Nick Saban will be coaching the Alabama football team. It is, to a degree, a mark of time this July 4. For many years in my life it has been the one holiday that is not necessarily a work day in sports.

Next week, for sure, we are back at it and full bore as Southeastern Conference Media Days are held in Hoover, suburban Birmingham. I’ll see many old friends there, too, as we pick one another’s brains for information or intuition regarding the upcoming season. Some of the coaches will be interesting and entertaining, but generally not forthcoming with any great news.

That doesn’t mean we – and by “we” I mean everyone who cares about SEC football, not just those who cover it -- won’t be hanging on every word.

For a number of years, the media event has signaled the preseason, as opposed to the offseason. That will be followed in somewhat short order by the start of practice and then on Labor Day weekend – when I will be working – Alabama vs. Florida State in a huge season-opening game.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Happy Birthday, America.

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