Alabama Football: Phil Steele disappoints Auburn and Tennessee fans

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

In his 2023 preseason rankings, Phil Steele has Alabama Football ranked No. 4, behind Georgia, Clemson and Michigan, and one spot ahead of Ohio State. Alabama Crimson Tide fans have nothing to complain about from Steele’s rankings.

First, Steele is as good as anyone and better than most when doing preseason rankings. Secondly, Alabama Football has a tough schedule with games against teams ranked by Steele as No. 9 (LSU); No. 11 (Texas); No. 12 (Texas A&M); No. 19 (Tennessee); No. 26 (Ole Miss) and No. 35 (Kentucky). Thirdly, in week two of the season, Alabama, with a likely unsettled quarterback situation must play No. 11 Texas.

At this point, Alabama fans should be content with Phil Steele’s Top 40 teams, as reported by On3. For more details on why Steele ranked what team where, go to or a local bookstore.

Alabama football fans can be content, but not the Vols and the Aubies

Without me providing any whiny comments as proof, a fair summary of responses by Tennessee fans is disdain for Steele having the Vols at No. 19. Apparently Tennessee fans think losing to South Carolina by 25 points last November is a performance having no bearing on the 2023 preseason. Instead, Tennessee message boards are filled with confidence the Vols will be a Playoff team.

Auburn fan sites are mostly ignoring Phil Steele’s preseason rankings. That is an uncommonly sensible response for the Aubies. Otherwise, any defense of Auburn would have to explain that in Phil Steele’s Top 40, not only is Auburn missing, but eight SEC teams are ranked in Steele’s predicted Top 35 teams in the nation.

Also triggering an Auburn ‘ignore button’ is that, unlike the Flying War Eagles, four Group of Five teams are ranked in Steele’s Top 40. They are the Toledo Rockets at No. 22, Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) at No. 24, the South Alabama (USA) Jaguars at No. 27, and Tulane at No. 34. For the Auburn fans who don’t have their eyes covered, seeing USA ranked and not Auburn must be painfully galling.

Auburn fans also have to ignore the ESPN FPI. It projects that it’s more likely the Auburn Tigers will have a losing season, rather than a winning one.

Putting aside Auburn’s woes, ESPN’s FPI provides another interesting prediction. According to the ESPN algorithm, only 10 FBS teams have a greater than 0.9% chance to be undefeated at the end of the 2023 regular season. Only four teams have a greater than 2.9% chance to be undefeated, after the regular season and conference championships. Those four teams, including the Alabama Crimson Tide at 13.6%, are all in Phil Steele’s preseason top five teams.

Next. Minimizing flag clutter in '23 season. dark

Please note this post is not an endorsement of the FPI. The secret algorithm is worth attention, if only for its entertainment value.