By Stan J. Griffin: April 1, 2016
While the University of Alabama A Day football game has perennially been a nice spring attraction for Crimson Tide fans hungry for a little gridiron action, it has simply become a powerhouse, must-see event during the tenure of Nick Saban as UA head football coach.
The first UA spring game for Saban, who has captured four national championships in Tuscaloosa and five overall as a head coach, drew a then-capacity crowd of 92,138 to Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2007 and the game has drawn an average of over 81,000 fans since then.
The game will very likely draw a huge crowd again this year, with the Crimson Tide coming off yet another national title in 2015, the 16th in the Alabama football program's tradition-rich history.
It may be hard for some to fathom, but this year's A Day Game, scheduled for April 16 at 2 p.m., will be the 10th such contest for Saban as Tide head coach, and a host of activities are planned for this year to celebrate that special anniversary.
The A-Day game is the 15th and final practice of the spring for this year's Crimson Tide team.
Gates open at 11 a.m. and admission will once again be free to the public. The game will also be televised by ESPN.
But fans attending the game will not only that to look forward to, as the UA campus, and Tuscaloosa in general, will be packed with fun events during that entire day.
A Day gameday gets started at 8 a.m. with the Mercedes-Benz Fan Fest, which will take place pregame and is open to the public outside the North end zone (corner of University Boulevard and Wallace Wade Drive). Fans will find inflatables, giveaways and games.
The Alumni Flag Football Game begins at 11:30 a.m. inside Bryant-Denny Stadium and will feature former Alabama greats. The game is slated for two 20-minutes halves and should wrap up around 12:15 p.m.
One of the great traditions at the University of Alabama, which is always open to the public, is the annual Walk of Fame Ceremony at Denny Chimes. At approximately 12:15 p.m. on A-Day, head coach Nick Saban and 2016 captains Jake Coker, Derrick Henry, Ryan Kelly and Reggie Ragland will address the crowd. The captains will then leave prints of their hands and cleats in the concrete as they join a long list of Crimson Tide greats at Denny Chimes.
The Crimson Tide will hold a Walk of Champions scheduled for 12:50 p.m. when the team arrives at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winners Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry will also be on hand for A-Day. The Heisman Trophy Trust will present Alabama with the program’s copy of Henry’s 2015 Heisman Trophy and Ingram will receive his 2009 Heisman Trophy ring from the Trust.
This year's halftime entertainment will feature the Alabama Quarterback Challenge with former Crimson Tide signal-callers from the last 10 years. The event will include nine throws from various distances to moving targets that will be assigned points followed by final throw for distance that will be awarded two points for every yard it travels. The competitor with the most points at the conclusion will be named the winner.
Throughout the 2016 A-Day Game former Crimson Tide greats, current NFL stars and former captains from the Saban era will be recognized as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sabans first spring in Tuscaloosa.
BBVA Compass will sponsor a free autograph session with former Crimson Tide running back Kenyan Drake from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Fan Photo tent outside of Gate 5, former football players will be also available for pictures from 10 a.m-1 p.m. Appearance times and player names will be released closer to the event.
This year fans will again have the opportunity to upgrade their experience at A-Day. There are a number of experiences and seating upgrades now available for purchase at Rolltide.expapp.com. Opportunities such as a tour of the Crimson Tide locker room, pre-game field access two watch the Alumni Flag Football Game, seats in the South and North Field Suites, North and South Zone tickets, early-access fast passes and new this season press box seats will be available.
A-Day posters featuring head coach Nick Saban and 10 Crimson Tide greats during the last 10 years, along with the 2016 schedule will be given away at the gates to the first 12,500 fans. Special commemorative A-Day programs highlighting Coach Saban’s 10 A-Day Games will be available at a cost of $5 and will include a player poster, coupons from sponsors and a chance to win game tickets if the Golden Flake game program ad on the inside front cover is signed by Coach Saban.
Coach Saban will present the spring awards to the team at midfield at the conclusion of the game. Once the team has cleared the field, for the third straight year at A-Day, all fans will have post-game field access. Fans may enter through any of the four corner gates.
Alabama leads the nation in spring game attendance over the last nine years with a total of 733,532 fans and an average of 81,503 fans per game during that period. The largest A-Day crowd in school history came in 2011 (92,310). In head coach Nick Saban's first year of 2007, the stadium was at full capacity prior to expansion (92,138).
There will also be activities going on throughout Tuscaloosa and the Alabama campus on A-Day weekend. The Crimson Tide baseball team hosts Ole Miss on April 15-17, with the series getting underway at 7 p.m. from Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Country music artist Chris Young will throw out the first pitch on April 15 prior to his 7:30 p.m. concert at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The men’s tennis team will then play host to Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale on Sunday, April 17, at The University of Alabama Tennis Stadium.
Public parking for A-Day is free and first-come/first-serve with Crimson Ride shuttles running from the east side of campus to the Quad. For more parking and A-Day information go to UAGameday.com.
Special thanks: Alabama Athletics Communications