Alabama Football: On position group rankings and ancient philosophy

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

What does the famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle have to do with Alabama Football? Pretty much nothing … and also maybe something. Among the Greek ‘Big Three’, Aristotle is generally credited with being the best thinker among the group that includes Plato and Socrates.

Among academics, Aristotle is known as the father of western logic, and first to develop a formal system for reasoning.

This mini-ancient history review has some bearing on Alabama Football in 2023. Before explaining what, let’s leap to the present day and consider how the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2023 position groups are being rated.

One source will be used. It is the work of On3’s Jesse Simonton who has rated college football’s top position groups for 2023. He began with Quarterbacks. In a top ten ranking, his top three were USC, LSU and Texas. The Alabama Football QB group did not make the top ten.

When Simonton rated tight end groups, the Crimson Tide failed to make the cut again.

Alabama rated better in three other offensive position groups, especially the Tide’s running backs at No. 2. Next best on offense for the Crimson Tide was the offensive line group at No. 6, followed by Tide wide receivers at No. 10.

Subjectively the Tide’s offensive group ratings suggest a level of point production that may not be capable of winning championships. As Alabama football fans we could debate Simonton, but in fairness probably none of us could analyze dozens of teams and do the task as competently.

The Tide’s defensive position group ratings were better, with Alabama being left out of only one top ten; the linebackers. Alabama did get an honorable mention listing for its inside linebackers. Note: Some outside linebackers were rated in the Edge/DL position group category.

In the Edge/DL position group ranked by On3, Alabama was No. 5. The Crimson Tide was No. 10 in the safety position group. The brightest spot for Alabama Football in all the rankings came in the cornerback group, with the Crimson Tide ranked No. 1.

Without diving deeper into the rankings, based on Simonton’s opinions there are at least three teams with more championship talent resources than the Crimson Tide. They include Georgia, Michigan and LSU; followed by Texas with the Loghorns being generally equal in position group talent to Alabama.

Should Alabama Football Fans Be Concerned?

A short answer to the question above – is no. There are two good reasons why no is the correct answer. The position group ratings are heavily influenced by one or two players from the position groups. For example, Kool-Aid McKinstry is the main reason Alabama is No. 1 in cornerbacks. In the course of a season, it may take strong performances by six or more cornerbacks on some teams in order to succeed. Beyond obvious starters, roster depth was not a significant rating factor. And Alabama, with five straight either No. 1 or No. 2 ranked signing classes, has an abundance of roster depth.

The other reason goes back to the Greek sage. Aristotle is credited with stating ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.’ Historians correct that the actual statement was the whole is something besides the parts. Either way, taking the wisdom and applying it to football makes sense. In tight games between closely matched teams, game-changing plays by individuals can determine the outcome. But championships are mostly won over the course of a season, rather than a few plays in one or two key games. In the game of college football, Aristotle is proven correct – the ‘whole’ (the synergism from the combined talents of a roster’s top 40-50 players) is best suited to winning championships.

False Narratives for 2023 Season. dark. Next

Why can Alabama fans count on the essential ingredient of synergism for the 2023 season? Nick Saban is a master motivator of players with a passion to prove they and their teammates are the best. That Alabama will relish the preparation challenge for the season and every game, will make the Crimson Tide ‘whole’ greater than the ‘parts’ in 2023.