In scouting the Senior Bowl since 2000, I've seen anything quite like today's South practice.
There were more fans, media, security at this one practice than I may have seen in any two combined practices in the past.
Let me attempt to describe the scene for you.
With the exception of the walk-through Friday practices, Mondays typically offer the least amount of excitement. Players are still jumpy, they've developed very little to any rapport with oneanother, they're more often than not limited to only shells (helmets, shoulder pads and shorts) and the coaches are often more focused on teaching certain basics, rather than allowing the players to really hit.
Furthermore, with the player weigh-in Monday morning, there is only enough light in the day for one practice session. Therefore, the North team practiced at Ladd Peebles Stadium, the site of Saturday's game, and the South team traveled to Fairhope Municipal Stadium, a 30 minute drive away. Each practiced began at 2:30 pm local (central) time.
Despite the fact that scouts were split up, it was obvious which team held the most interest for them. Based on the number of Florida fans in the stands, it was just as obvious why so many chose to go watch the South -- Tim Tebow was practicing there, after all.
Years ago, the Senior Bowl wasn't the spectacle it is now. As such, NFL personnel and media were allowed onto the field, itself, to scout from the sidelines during practice. We were only asked to remain on the sidelines until practice ended. Once it ended, upon flashing our credentials, we could enter the field to speak to the players. In the post 9/11 world, however, security tightened and league personnel and media were asked to remain in the stands during practice. A uniformed police officer remained at the gate and allowed us to enter at the conclusion of practice to speak to players.
There were several police officers on and off the field Monday, as well as some yellow-coated crowd control officers. There was an impromptu gate set up just to enter the stadium with one of the yellow-coated officers brandishing a metal detecting wand and patting down visitors.
If the event was the circus, then Tebow was clearly the main attraction on center stage. There were more Florida #15 jerseys in the stands and on the sidelines than Alabama and Auburn jerseys combined. When Tebow left the field, he was serenaded with chants of his last name and the screams of girls more suited to a Jonas Brothers concert than a typical Senior Bowl practice.
And to think, tomorrow, when there will be even more NFL scouts on hand, the circus could be even bigger...