A New Season for Summer

Where do we go from here?

It's one of the existential questions every Alabama football fan faces after a couple of weeks of post-spring analysis and digestion. If your three favorite sports' seasons are football, spring football and football recruiting (in any order) you're off-season is about to begin.

In previous years I can remember the A-Day game often coincided with the NFL Amateur draft. This year, due to changes in the academic calendar and Mike Shula's desire not to split spring training with a week of spring break in the middle, the Tide's 15 spring practices have been over for a full month.

The NFL Draft begins this weekend and it will be accompanied by around-the-clock cable TV coverage. It will coincide with the official ending of spring football season across the Southeastern Conference as Kentucky holds its spring game this weekend, the last spring game in the league.

Some people will turn to watching baseball, others will play golf, work in the yard or take more time away from the computer (gasp!) for something else.

But for those for whom football is truly a 12-month obsession, this is the beginning of football's fourth season, the season of speculation.

It's a wonderful, if unappreciated season. Speculation season offers all the debate of the three aforementioned seasons with the added benefit that the debate isn't limited by the focus of a critical mass on another more pertinent areas.

There are so many questions - so few firm answers.

Will all four of Alabama's four RB signees qualify? Can Auburn contend and win the West without their starting backfield from a year ago? Will the SEC find new and unpredictable ways to foul up instant replay?

College football pre-season magazines will be hitting the stands to tell us everything we need to know about the other teams in a couple of pages each – a major conduit in speculation season.

They might tell us that Arkansas' three quarterbacks completed seven total passes in a 48-play spring game, but they can't tell us if Brodie's knee will hold up, or if Kenneth Darby will be fully healed, or if Tim Castille will be back to his old self.

Watching the grass grow (or not) at Bryant-Denny Stadium and speculating how it will turn out at the first game might be sporting in June and July, but the grass man's fame is gone by the middle of October.

But to some, that will be more interesting than following the legal proceedings of two former Alabama coaches expected to unfold in Tuscaloosa this summer.

Strength and conditioning workouts will be ongoing four days a week with little exception from now until August. There is an emphasis on gaining strength, especially with young linemen. But it will be late fall before the results of these workouts are truly seen.

With the hyper competitiveness of college football these days, strength and conditioning and summer pass skel drills are much more of a story if they aren't being conducted.

Reports will begin to come in about which incoming signees will report to the team in August and which ones will not. A combination of grayshirts and academic casualties will comprise a list of 8 or so young men who will not be a part of the reporting 105 roster.

I'm sure I'm leaving something tangentially football related – but the wide array of topics are a part of the season.

Fortunately, we'll meet back at the same point in August, all eyes turned toward fall camp.

But until then it's open season. Speculation season.

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