Oh, 2008, you were a glorious year. No real expectations. There wasn't an elusive 4th National Title in 5 years hanging over your head. Your predecessor (2007) wasn't so great and for the first time in a decade a general excitement about football was in the air. Oh, by god, how you didn't disappoint.
Y'all remember watching film of the 2008 Spring Practice and just starring in awe at how big the players looked?
Oh, and who can forget watching the video of Julio stiff arming Rashad Johnson during practice and thinking, "MY GOD, A FRESHMAN."
(To watch the video, click the link "Watch in Youtube")
It was like football was brand new. Kind of like when you get that new NCAA '14 video game. You know it's pretty much the same as the previous year but you still act like a little kid on Christmas morning when popping it in the Xbox or PS3 for the first time.
We all knew (at least us super football intellectual types) that the '08 team had a chance to be good, we just didn't know how good. The sting of '00-'07 was still very real and believing wasn't something Alabama fans had been accustomed to. There was more want than belief among the fan base.
But when the game kicked off against Clempson you just knew it wasn't a matter of if but when 'Bama would win a National Title. The team looked angry, motivated, strong but most importantly prepared and disciplined; something we hadn't seen out of an Alabama team in ages.
Tiffin hitting that 50 yarder. Cody plugging the middle. John Parker actually looking...poised. Barron running down the field looking to take anyone's head off. Ingram and Coffee running with a determination. The O-line imposing their will. And who could forget the catch, that wasn't a catch?
Re-watching the highlights it wasn't the same mauling as the '11 LSU BCS Title game, '13 Michigan, '13 Notre Dame, '09/'10/'11 UF or the last two Iron Bowls. You could tell perhaps this team wasn't ready but what jumped off the screen was that 'Bama was back and the SEC better be ready.
When the clock rested at 0:00 and the scoreboard read 34-10 you just smiled because you knew the years of roaming the desert, praying for the pain to end, was close to being over and 'Bama was on the fringe of returning to the promise land.
Little did we know what the next 4 years would bring.