Roy Exum: Alabama Picked No. 1 In Coaches’ Poll

Wednesday, August 10, 2022 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When Alabama football coach Nick Saban described last year’s season as a “rebuilding effort,” it triggered a lot of good-natured laughter throughout college sports. After all, the Crimson Tide just won 13 games and the SEC championship game before losing the national title game to Georgia. As if to underscore such greatness, this year’s Alabama team has just been chosen by the AFCA Coach’s preseason poll as the No. 1 team in the country coming into the 2022 season.

There are 66 coaches who vote on what is commonly called The USA Today Coaches’ Top 25 and this is the sixth time in the last 10 years Alabama has earned the preseason nod.

Alabama received 54 first-place votes. No. 2 Ohio State had five, No. 3 Georgia had six and No. 18 Texas received one first-place vote. (The Longhorns host Alabama on Sept. 10.)

Other SEC schools in the coach’s preseason top 25 were No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 23 Arkansas and No. 24 Ole Miss. Also receiving votes were Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Mississippi State, Florida and South Carolina.

Alabama’s All-American linebacker Will Anderson says the players could care less. “For us, we don’t really know anything about the (preseason) polls,” he said. “That’s not something that’s talked about in the locker room, that’s not something that’s put up on the board. We don’t know anything about that stuff.”

Coach Saban dislikes the preseason predictions. “It’s kind of interesting to me that I see articles every day that - you all (the media) have decided already what kind of team we’re going to have, what the expectations are for the team,” Saban said Sunday. “I think in some ways this creates a much more difficult challenge to have players be hungry, try to prove what they can do together as a group.”

Instead, Saban has “the participation trophy” from the College Football Playoffs as the centerpiece in the team’s dining room as a daily reminder that last year the Tide didn’t get it done. The championship game loss to Georgia (33-18) still rankles the team and Saban is using the meaningless trophy to carry the message.

Listen to Alabama’s defensive coordinator: “I think they remember the last 15 minutes of football they played, and that’s not how we wanted it to be,” Pete Golding said. “The bottom line, we didn’t get it done when we needed to. We couldn’t stop the run when we needed to. I think that’s still in their guts. When they come to work every day we want them to remember that feeling just as we remember that feeling and that’s up to us how we practice as a team so we prepare the right way so we don’t feel that again.”

This is why “the participation trophy” is what Alabama players see every day in fall workouts three times a day in their cafeteria. All the trophy means is you reached the Final Four. Forget the 27-6 thrashing of Cincinnati to get to the final game. Alabama “participated.”

Yuck.

royexum@aol.com


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