By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama is entering the football season as the defending national champion. The Crimson Tide has more talent on their roster than any other team in college football. Their only real concerns are at quarterback and kicker. The schedule is one of the toughest in the country.
The level of consistent dominance reached by Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa is unparalleled by any other program in college football. Every year, it’s the same story with Alabama football.
Since Saban’s arrival in 2007, Alabama has been fueled by a stout, impenetrable defense that featured a plethora of future NFL stars. The Tide offense typically includes a commanding offensive line and a stable of powerful running backs that always appear bigger, stronger, and faster than anyone else’s running backs.
There’s a chance that Alabama won’t be ranked at the top of the polls to be-gin the season. Clemson – the team Alabama defeated in the national title game in January – might be the more alluring choice. But Alabama is the favorite once again.
Nick Saban’s teams have dominated college football despite getting mediocre output from the most important position in the sport, and that might be the most impressive accomplishment of his distinguished career.
Remember last year when there were concerns about Jake Coker at quarterback? Those concerns were justified, but they still didn’t matter. Instead of being an issue for the Tide, Coker simply became the least talented QB to win a national championship in more than a decade. In the previous season, Blake Sims somehow led Alabama to the playoffs. It’s unclear if Cooper Bateman or Blake Barnett (or possibly someone else) will start at signal-caller this year for Alabama, but it will probably look similar to previous seasons under Saban.
Alabama’s schedule in 2016 is ferocious, with the road schedule being especially brutal. The Tide tra-vels to Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU, all of which could be ranked in the top 10 when they play UA.
If Alabama doesn’t repeat in 2016, however, it won’t be because of the schedule and it won’t be because of quarterback play. It won’t even be due to a sub-par kicking game, though it’s still peculiar that Saban hasn’t figured that out yet. If Alabama doesn’t repeat, it will be due to complacency.
After Saban won his first national title at Alabama in 2009, the Crimson Tide returned a roster full of players who are now playing on Sundays. The 2010 team included Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Marcell Dareus, Dont’a Hightower, C.J. Mosley, Mark Barron, and Dre Kirkpatrick – yet somehow Alabama lost three games in the regular season.
The 2010 team was arguably Saban’s most talented throughout his entire coaching career, yet that squad made uncharacteristic mistakes and lost to teams it should have beaten. In the 2010 Iron Bowl, Alabama was on the verge of delivering a crushing blow to Auburn’s national title aspirations before the Tide inexplicably blew a 24-0 lead. It certainly wasn’t due to a talent deficiency; rather, Alabama seemed either unprepared or perhaps even entitled during the course of the season. Of course, Saban addressed those issues in the following offseason and rattled off back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.
Last year, it was obvious that Alabama was hungry after falling short in the previous season. Will the 2016 Crimson Tide covet hoisting another championship trophy this year? Or will UA suffer the same transgressions that plagued many other defending national champions?
Alabama is the favorite to win the national championship yet again. Just don’t tell that to Nick Saban.