Happy Fourth

As I have shared in the past, those of us who worked for the athletics department when Paul W. Bryant was director of athletics (as well as football coach) considered the Fourth of July to be the best holiday of the year. All Americans might take a moment for sober reflection, but historically Independence Day has been a time for unbridled celebration.

In our area, the fireworks started Friday night. It's enjoyable along the water, where the sky stretches and the flash and color reflects off the lake. During the day there are sounds -- children splashing and shouting, boats and Seadoos sucking down $3.25 a gallon (at our closest marina) gas.

And on this holiday I never fail to remember "the memo." It didn't come from Coach Bryant, but rather from his top assistant, Associate Athletics Director Sam Bailey. It was the same every year, the date obviously having had the year "whited out" and updated.

It read:

The Coliseum will be closed on July 4."

A mandatory off day, the only day of the year when there wasn't athletics work to be done. Even Ken Donahue, the legendary 18-hour-a-day defensive coordinator, took a day away from the office and film study on July 4.

This year we had a few hours of "back to the real world." Our long weekend was broken by a funeral, the impossible task of providing comfort to the good friends who lost a husband and brother and father.

July 4 also marks the end of summer for those of us associated with the business of college football. We'll have some interview time later this week, and the opportunity to share with you here the thoughts of Head Coach Mike Shula and Crimson Tide players. A few weeks later and it's time for the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Birmingham, and more news from head coaches and players from Alabama and the other 11 SEC teams.

And then, scarcely a month from today, the official reporting date for 105 Alabama football players to begin fall camp.

While we look forward to these football-related activities as much as anyone, we hope you can appreciate our enjoyment of this final day of "closed."

And on this day when we celebrate freedom, we hope you are taking advantage of the "free" look at premium stories. Even though there isn't much news on this holiday weekend, you can browse back to see premium stories of recent days.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.


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