Alabama Football: On preseason rankings and Crimson Tide rivals

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football will again be in the hunt for another National Championship under Nick Saban. There was no surprise Tuesday when the preseason Coaches Poll was released. Of course, the defending National Champion, Alabama Crimson Tide was ranked No. 1. Teams are ranked by 65 college head coaches and Alabama Football was ranked first by all but two. An off-the-wall guess is the two coaches not picking the Crimson Tide No. 1 were Ohio State’s Ryan Day and Georgia’s Kirby Smart.

It makes no sense for an SEC coach, whose team will battle the Tide in the regular season, to vote Nick Saban’s team below No. 1. This is why I am confident, Bryan Harsin and Josh Heupel voted the Tide No. 1.

Alabama Football fans unconcerned about ‘hated’ teams

Neither coach has a team having any chance to upset the Crimson Tide in 2021. How bad are things in Knoxville and Auburn? A few days ago, 247Sports published a list of the ten most-hated college football teams of all-time. The 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide was on the list at No. 9. Auburn’s 2010 team was ranked No. 4 among the most hated. The ranking went largely unnoticed by Crimson Tide fans. Not so with Auburn, as always measuring the Tigers program against the goliath across the state.  Aubies protested the Tide’s 2011 team should have been much more hated than their 2010 National Champions.

The problem for Auburn fans is there is so little good news to draw their attention. Auburn was unranked in the Coaches Poll Top 25. Not only were they unranked, but Ole Miss, Louisiana and Coastal Carolina were. What a fall for the Auburn program.

According to ESPN’s FPI Auburn will be a 7-5 team this season. The Tennessee Vols, with a program that has imploded from on-field failures and massive player exits, also gets a 7-5 nod from ESPN. Auburn is given a 2.7 percent chance to win the SEC West. Tennessee is worse, with a 1.5 percent chance to win the SEC East. Other SEC West programs are given little chance to win the division. Ole Miss (2.1 percent to win the division); LSU (1.8 percent); Mississippi State (1.5 percent) and Arkansas at 0.2 percent have similar predicted winning/losing records. Like Auburn and Tennessee, the first three are also predicted to finish 7-5, with Arkansas predicted to go 6-6.

The ESPN FPI could be greatly flawed. If it isn’t, a large number of SEC teams will finish 7-5 or worse. Auburn and Tennessee appear destined to reside in that bottom tier of the SEC for at least the 2021 season. Poor recruiting results for Auburn under Bryan Harsin suggest the bottom tier might become the Tigers’ permanent home.

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Meanwhile, in Tuscaloosa, the Nick Saban championship factory marches on. And no one is talking about ‘most-hated’ teams.