Six years ago, Alabama was under a tough probation that crippled the program for the time being, even taking away scholarships that hurt the future of the program as well. The future was looking dark as Mike Shula patrolled the sidelines of Bryant-Denny Stadium, and Alabama was nothing more than a middle-tier SEC school. A promising 2005 season saw Alabama start 9-0 and finish 10-2, and once again a glee of light began to peer into the program. But, that was nothing more than false hope as the Tide regressed the next year going just 6-7 along with a fifth consecutive loss to arch-rival Auburn and that spelled the end of the Mike Shula era in Tuscaloosa. Then, hope arose through as Mal Moore made a lucrative offer to lure a former National Championship winning coach in Nick Saban to the Capstone. You could see the excitement by a fan-base that hadn't had anything to cheer about since 1999 as over 92,000 people showed up for the A-Day game.
The 2007 season was a roller coaster season for the Tide as they started off 6-2 before faltering down the stretch with four consecutive losses including an embarrassing loss to Louisiana-Monroe and a sixth consecutive defeat at the hands of Auburn. Bitterness arose from Alabama fans as they were being extremely impatient, I even overheard another "fan" say that Saban was a waste of money.
That chatter quickly stopped as Saban reeled in the Nation's #1 ranked recruiting class and more optimism began to arise in Tuscaloosa and the Nation began to take notice. Alabama came into 2008 though with high expectations, but they far exceeded what was expected. The Crimson Tide ran through the SEC finishing 12-0 in the regular season including big wins over Clemson, Georgia, LSU, and breaking the six game losing streak by blowing out Auburn 36-0. The season didn't end like most had hoped as Alabama was defeated by Florida in the SEC Championship game, derailing their National Title hopes, and losing to Utah in the Sugar Bowl to cap Saban's second year with a 12-2 record.
The thought of a National Championship hadn't peered into Alabama fans heads in a long time, and even at the start of the 2009 season, many didn't expect this to be the Tide team that did so, with Tim Tebow returning for his senior season in Gainesville. Most expected Alabama's season to end the same way it did in 2008, with a loss to Florida in the SEC Championship game, but hopefully they could have a better showing in the Sugar Bowl.
There were a ton of question marks for Alabama this season with the biggest being the three new starters on the offensive line along with a new QB in Greg McElroy taking over for a three year starter in John Parker Wilson. Still, Alabama began the preseason in the top five as a date with Virginia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A College Football Kickoff in the Georgia Dome, the same venue that they began last season with a 34-10 win over Clemson that paved the way to an unbeaten regular season.
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