Alabama Football: Across college football, Crimson Tide has most talent in 2020

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Which team has the most elite talent for the 2020 season? It is Alabama football followed by two other teams and then all the others.

Talent for Alabama football and other championship-contending college football programs is more measurable than predictable. Thanks to an explosion of statistical analysis, talent can be measured by performance. Other, less predictable elements, are also factors in successful championship seasons.

Does the most talented team always win? Certainly not in every game, but overall more talented teams beat less talented teams with great frequency. There is an adage in college football that it is a team’s second 22, rather than its first 22, that determines team success or failure.

No doubt depth matters. It is necessary to combat injury-depleted rosters. It allows for more player specialization, driven both by skills and game situations. In this context, it takes more than half of a roster to contribute to team success.

There is another less calculable factor to championship success. The outcome of many games comes down to the results of just a few plays. In those often unpredictable moments, a result occurs from the actions of a few players. Teams win or lose games by the performance of position groups. Inside those position groups, individual performance is key. Execution by individual players leads to team success. Elite players earn their reputations because they perform best in a game’s most pivotal plays.

All of which says, teams with more elite players will have more success than teams with fewer elite players. Which 2020 college football team will have the most elite players? A pre-season indication is it will the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Using two expert sources, it is possible to measure the predicted, best 100 (actually 95) players for the 2020 college football season. ESPN, via Mel Kiper and Steve Lasson for Athlon Sports, provide valuable data. Kiper has developed his best players by position groups for the 2021 NFL Draft. Kiper’s information is not linked to this post because viewing it requires an ESPN subscription. After reviewing numerous team, fan sites, and public message boards, Kiper’s list of 75 players is accessible.  Lasson’s list is 50 players across college football, not restricted to players eligible for the 2021 Draft. The two experts picked many of the same players. Merging both sets of players provides a list of the 95 most elite players for the 2020 season.

What teams dominate by having the most elite players on a 2020 roster? Alabama football leads with nine players. Next in the FBS are the Ohio State Buckeyes with six, and the LSU Tigers with six.

Among other SEC schools, the Georgia Bulldogs are next with three players among the 95. Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee have one player each.

Among notable programs outside the SEC, Miami, Oregon and Texas have four. Clemson, Illinois, Michigan, Pitt, Southern Cal, Stanford and Washington each have three players on the combined list.

What is the critical mass of ‘elite’ players to win a championship? That is not known, but looking back to last season, LSU had the most, healthy, ‘elite’ players for a Playoff run. Will an ‘elite’ player advantage prevail again in the 2020 season? Alabama football fans have to like the Tide’s chances.

dark. Next. For 5-Stars, rolling with the Tide, a good decision

Looking for more player-predictive data? Each August, Phil Steele provides a ranked list of 500 incoming freshmen.