The Associated Press announced its annual preseason rankings for the upcoming NCAA football season, and it should come as no surprise that Alabama sits atop the poll as the year is set to begin. That’s what back to back BCS National Championships will do for a team.
Although critiquing the rankings and complaining about the spot your favorite team checks in it is as much a tradition of the AP preseason poll as the rankings themselves, it is hard to argue that Alabama is not deserving of the top spot. Voters in the poll were almost unanimous in their agreement, second place Ohio State received just a single vote for the top spot.
Rounding out the remainder of the top five spots are Oregon, Stanford, and Georgia.
Historically speaking, the deck is stacked against the coach Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide heading into the 2013 season despite claiming the AP top spot. No team in the history of the NCAA has successfully three-peated as national champions. Ten teams have won back-to-back titles, yet all have failed to win the elusive third title game.
Alabama also has not fared extraordinarily well when it enters a season with the AP top spot. With this being the fourth time they have gone into a season ranked number one, Alabama only has maintained that ranking throughout the season one time. Bear Bryant led the Crimson Tide to an entire season of being ranked number one when they won the national championship in 1978.
The AP has come out with preseason college football rankings every year since 1950. Only ten times has the team that started the season out in the top spot finished the year atop the ranking ladder. The last time that happened was when USC accomplished the feat in 2004.
Confident that his Alabama team can continue to better itself and finish off the hat trick of National Championships, Nick Saban explains how his team shares the same improvement goals as everyone else in the NCAA. “Most other teams are out there saying we’ve got something to prove,” Saban said. “Well, this team has something to prove. It’s a lot more difficult not to be a little bit complacent, not to keep the same accountability to being successful that’s necessary. You’ve got to challenge yourself every day. You’ve got to challenge each other.”
Motivation is easy to find when a team is on the brink of history. The taste of defeat is still on the tongue of several key stars on this year’s Crimson Tide. Quarterback AJ McCarron, guard Anthony Steen, and defensive stars CJ Mosely and Ed Stinson certainly remember how it felt to lose the 2010 National Championship game.
Alabama has won three of the past four title games, and looks to make it four of five by completing the hat trick in 2013. The odds are against their accomplishing the feat, however they have looked as close to unbeatable as a team can look over a period of several years. At this point its hard to think that any team can unseat Alabama from their spot atop the AP rankings.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express