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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The traffic was bad. If you ask players who were on the 2007 Alabama football team something they’ll never forget about Nick Saban’s first A-Day with the Crimson Tide, the open scrimmage to celebrate the end of spring practices, many will mention that the atmosphere was like a regular season game day against a big Southeastern Conference opponent.

Others talk about how happy and relieved they were to have gotten through the grind of the brutal Fourth Quarter conditioning program, followed by the intense workouts and practices designed to maximize efficiency as the new coach wanted to set a new tone.

However, all of them rave about the fan turnover that day, which was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. Even the most optimistic school officials had expected maybe 50,000 fans to show up to see Saban come out of the tunnel for the first time, and, just in case, planned for a record-breaking 60,000. There were no thoughts of opening the entire stadium, it was April after all, months away from the regular season.

But they did. The lower bowl filled, followed by the western upper deck, and people were still coming. The contingency northern upper deck was made available and finally the eastern deck, with closed concession stands and unprepared bathrooms, and they kept pouring in. Visually from afar they looked like a vast army of ants in a giant single-file line that extended from section to section until finally all the stands were full, not to mention the ramps where some could overlook the field and ongoing scrimmage while taking advantage of the shade.

Finally, the gates were closed and late-arriving fans turned away. Bryant-Denny Stadium had exceeded its capacity of 92,138. It was probably the greatest welcoming party in the history of sports.

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