Different Situation for Alabama

HOOVER, Ala. -- Normally one of the certainties of SEC Media Days is that the biggest star of the three days of activity will be the head coach of Alabama, but that's not the case this time around. Oh there's a healthy contingent of ‘Bama fans on hand to try and see Nick Saban, but there's not nearly the attention that was paid to Tim Tebow on Wednesday.

As a result it was a kinder, gentler Saban who greeted the media assembled for this event, and the notoriously combative ‘Bama boss even thanked us for all we do covering and promoting college football.

I feel a tremor in the force.

One thing the Alabama folks on hand didn't bother to downplay is the significance of the Crimson Tide's season opener. Alabama will face a highly respected Clemson team in Atlanta on August 30 in a game that will really set the tone for the 2008 season.

Nick Saban on Clemson ----- "Clemson is an outstanding team, a top ten team. They are the favorite to win the ACC. They have some fantastic players returning. Tommy (Bowden) has done an outstanding job there. He's a very good coach. Philosophically I think it will be a great test to show us where we are early in the season. We're certainly trying to create an identity for ourselves and this may be a game that will help us."

Offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell on Clemson ----- "It's not normal for your first game to be the key to set the tone for your season, but this year it is. We know how talented Clemson is. I've been watching film on them since April and May. They have a lot of team speed and they play very hard. They have everything you need in a football team. I feel like we've been working hard, and I think we're gonna match up well with those guys and we're looking forward to it."

Safety Rashad Johnson ----- "Clemson is a great team and they have a lot of talent. It'll be a great challenge for us as a team to see where we're at and what we need to work on. (Having them as an opener) I think it's made the team drive a lot harder this summer. I think about summer workouts last year compared to this year is like night and day. All anyone talks about in the locker room is "Let's start it in Atlanta and let's finish it in Atlanta"."

The Clemson game takes on added importance because of the way Alabama's season played out last year. The Crimson Tide entered the month of November with a 6-2 overall record, 4-1 in the SEC and had just blasted Tennessee 41-17. However instead of a November to remember it was a November to be dismembered as the Tide lost to LSU, Mississippi State, Louisiana-Monroe and Auburn. A season ending bowl win over, a mediocre at best, Colorado team did little to salve those wounds.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel

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