Countdown to No. 1: Can Alabama handle the expectations?

It’s been a fun week counting down our Top 25 teams for 2010. It will come as no surprise to you that I have Alabama at No. 1.

Yes, Alabama has to replace nine starters on defense and both of its kickers. And logically, the Crimson Tide should not be able to win a second straight national championship. Nobody has done it since Nebraska in 1994-95. But I’m putting a lot of this preseason ranking on two things:

1. Alabama has a lot of really, really good players. They played a bunch of people on defense last season and so replacing all those starters will not be as complicated as it might seem.

2. If any coach can guide his team through the mental mine field of trying to win consecutive championships, it is Nick Saban. This season, more than anything else, will be an exercise in mental toughness at Alabama. Saban and his staff do that well.

So here we go. Here is our preseason Top Five for 2010:

 

1. Alabama

 **–It will be a good season if: The Crimson Tide goes 12-0 for the third straight regular season and reaches the SEC championship game. If that happens they will win in Atlanta again and play for another BCS title. Alabama last won back to back national championships in 1978-79.

**–It will be a disappointing season if: They stumble on the road against Arkansas on Sept 25 or at home against Florida on Oct. 2. It’s not fair, but anything less than an undefeated regular season is going to be a disappointment.

 2. Ohio State

**–It will be a good season if: The Buckeyes win their two toughest road games at Wisconsin (Oct. 16 at night) and Iowa (Nov. 20) and get another shot at an SEC team in the BCS championship game. It looks like coach Jim Tressel is finally ready to turn quarterback Terrelle Pryor loose. If Pryor plays the way he did against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes are going to be hard to beat.

**–It’s will be a disappointing season if: They are not ready to play when Miami, a very athletic team, comes to the Horseshoe on Sept. 11. Lose that one and the Buckeyes will have a tough time getting to the big game. Miami has the physical talent to go to the Horseshoe and win. My CSS broadcast partner, Brady Ackerman, has already picked the Hurricanes in that game. I’m not so sure.

3. Texas

**–It will be a good season if:  Texas successfully reshapes its offense to emphasize the run and the Longhorns win back-to-back games against Oklahoma (Oct. 2 in Dallas) and at Nebraska (Oct. 16). With Gilbert Garrett at quarterback, Texas will have a more traditional, pro-style offense. Garrett came off the bench in the national championship game against Alabama and showed that he will be a good player for the Longhorns.

**–It will be a disappointing season if: The losses of quarterback Colt McCoy (45 career wins) and defensive stars like Sergio Kindle and Earl Thomas are too much to overcome. If Texas loses to Oklahoma on Oct. 2, then they could get eliminated in the division with a loss at Nebraska. A 10-2 or 11-2 record still gets Texas in a BCS bowl.

 4. Florida

**–It will be a good season if: The Gators, despite the loss of Tim Tebow and five NFL draft choices off the defense, reach the SEC championship game for the third straight season. Over the past five years Florida has recruited as well as anyone and will plug those holes with some very talented people. Also, the pressure is off. Alabama is wearing the crown and so I expect Florida to be a much more relaxed football team than it was a year ago, when the Gators were anything but relaxed.

**–It will be a disappointing season if: New quarterback John Brantley struggles and the Gators slip up somewhere other than Tuscaloosa on Oct. 2. We simply don’t know what the defense is going to do with a bunch of new faces, including new defensive coordinators Teryl Austin and Chuck Heater. How much will Florida miss long-time DC Charlie Strong, now the head coach at Louisville?

5. Boise State

**–It will be a good season if: The Broncos go undefeated for the second straight season and are rewarded with a spot in the BCS championship game. I still think it is a long shot for Boise because to get to Glendale it means all of the champions in the Big Six conferences would have to have a loss. The real question is whether or not a 12-0 Boise would go to the BCS championship ahead of a one-loss champ from the SEC, Big Ten,  ACC or Big 12?

**–It will be a disappointing season if: With 21 of 22 returning starters, the Broncos stumble out of the gate and lose to Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 in Landover, Md.  If that happens, the Broncos can still get to a BCS Bowl, maybe even the Rose, but they won’t play in the Big Game.

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474 comments Add your comment

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
3:59 pm

not a “mute” point

you’re searching for a “moot” point, but I can’t hear you.

G8R GRAD

August 20th, 2010
4:00 pm

This just in from the Seminole Kickoff:

Coach Jimbo Fisher has a new name for UF, “That little school down the road.”

Now dem’s fightin’ words, squaw boy!

Times R Changin'

August 20th, 2010
4:03 pm

Hey G8R Grad – that would be the Ramblin’ Wreck over the Noles. You shouldn’t call one of the top 4 engineering schools in the country a trade school. We might invent a gadget that let’s the dogs beat y’all. I know it would take billions of $’s, but we could do it.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
4:05 pm

explanation for particiapants on the Finebaum show.

When I attended the University of Alabama, the Bryce Hospital (state mental institution) was adjacent to the campus. Subsequent to my graduation, phones were installed in the wards, and patients were encouraged to call in to the Paul Finebaum program.

Now that Finebaum has gone global, I’m seriously considering a move to Atlanta.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
4:10 pm

G8R GRAD,

“Federal Offense”- They show football in federal pen don’t they?

Fred- The butteyes- it may be juvenile but I still laughed.

3rd n 8- I do the mute vs moot thing often. Kinda like doing your vs you’re where ya just aint paying attention.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
4:12 pm

Tide Rising

ok….I’ll give you a pass

I’ve had a few tiepoes myself

Win P.

August 20th, 2010
4:12 pm

Gatorbait 17-3, Chuck Heater should run for President

LHardingDawg

August 20th, 2010
4:12 pm

While I can’t see into the future to see how teams will be ranked at the end of the year. I would want (being a Georgia fan) to be ranked #1 going into the Tech game with them being ranked #2.

I do believe Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida are getting a lot of love in the preseason with Alabama deserving the love. As much as we would not like for it to be so, the SEC officials will follow form and determine the outcome of some very important games. It’s sad, but it is the SEC way. The teams in favor have been Florida (Arkansas), LSU (Georgia), and Alabama (any team they are playing).

While these preseason polls give us fans something to talk about, the BCS has it right by not putting a poll out until October. By then all teams have some wins and losses and the poll actually means something.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
4:15 pm

LHardingDawg

I do hope you’re wrong. I like Mark Richt, and think CFB needs more like him. That LSU hame last year was an absolute travesty.

Here’s hoping the SEC officiating gets it right this year.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
4:16 pm

please remove “hame”, and insert “game”

LHardingDawg

August 20th, 2010
4:24 pm

3rdn8 – I’m with you about wanting the officials to get it right. But you have to consider the money, and it’s not going away. TV will determine the results in a lot of close games.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
4:25 pm

How2fish,

I take no offense that people think Richt is a better coach than Saban because he has a higher overall winning % and has been more consistent. Keep in mind though that Saban had coached at 2 dead end destinations like Toledo and Mich State and so his overall winning % is going to be lower than Richts. Comparing apples to apples though and looking at Saban’s winning % at his 2 sec stops he is 75% and 80% for a slightly higher % than Richt at 76%. And his 3 sec titles and 2 bcs titles in 8 years of taking on not 1 but 2 rebuilding jobs is better than 2 sec titles and 0 bcs titles in 9 years.

But I don’t get that some of you don’t like him because of “character” issues. So he changed his mind about leaving Miami and taking the Bama job. So what? He wouldn’t be the first coach to do so.

Oversigning? So what? He plays with 85 scholly players like everyone else. And he knows the #s on his team and the likely attrition for all sorts of reasons better than you, me, or anyone else.

Greyshirting? So what? 2 players have to greyshirt this year and I think 1 had to do so last year. Big freaking deal. I would rather 1 or 2 players greyshirt knowing this was a possibility than play with 13 and 17 fewer scholly players last year as UT and AU did. That’s 30 young men that didn’t get to go live the dream of playing big time college football because a coach didn’t manage his numbers correctly. Which is worse? That 1 or 2 players have to delay enrollment by 1 semester or that 13 or 17 young men don’t get to go to college to play D1 football?

And as far as character goes I’m happy with the character Saban instills in his young men. He kicked out a lot of bad apples his first year in 2007 and since then the arrests have practically disappeared. Want to know the character of a program? We haven’t had a player arrested in 13 months now. Notta one. Now THAT is character.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
4:26 pm

Tebow

here is my take on the University of Florida’s football program.

(A) Tebow. as an Alabama fan, I’m glad the guy graduated. I think that all-in-all, he had something like twelve years of elgibility.

(B) I think that Meyer(s) made a tactical error in 2009, by placing roughtly 98% of the offense on Tebow’s shoulders. The tandum of Saban/Smart figured that one out, and voila’ the 2009 SECCG.

(C) Meyer(s) won’t make that same mistake again.

(D) Stand by in Tuscaloosa.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
4:31 pm

Dang, I was over on another blog, and missed the “mute/moot” thing. I thought when I read it, it was supposed to be a “mutt” comment.

Ba-dump-ba. Cheap joke.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
4:35 pm

3rdn8,

It just seemed like Tebow was at UF 12 years. To the dawg fans it musta seemed like 2 decades.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
4:41 pm

LHardingDawg –

“3rdn8 – I’m with you about wanting the officials to get it right. But you have to consider the money, and it’s not going away. TV will determine the results in a lot of close games.”

Gives a whole new meaning to who is favored.

3rdn8

August 20th, 2010
4:45 pm

re: Sabans’ “character”

I was living in south Florida in 2006 when Saban had his infamous “I will not be the next coach at Alabama” press conference.

I don’t activily follow the NFL, and can’t explain why I followed that story. But Saban, and his mannerisms made me think that the story might not be that off-target afterall. I was watching a guy who was clearly uncomfortable talking with the media about that topic. He was two weeks away from completing the NFL regular season, and wanted to discuss nothing else

The aftermath was unbelievable. Talk shows in the Miami area did nothing but crucify Saban at every opportunity. The comments made re: the citizens of Alabama would not be allowed under most PC guidelines.. However, rednecks are exempt from PC protection.

I became a Saban fan at that time. I don’t even like the guy (think he is an arrogant SOB), but can’t have Dbags like Dan LaFever trashing my bretheren.

kinggator

August 20th, 2010
4:47 pm

has any bcs team repeated as national champs? if so, who? yes, there’s always going to be a first, but it ain’t going to be bama, not this yr. Too tough of a schedule, and the odds are stacked against them. Look for a team like boise state to slip in there finally and get some respect

Gatorbait 17-3

August 20th, 2010
4:48 pm

GatorGuy

August 20th, 2010
12:21 pm
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

What Dawg Fans were saying in…

August 1997 – UF has no chance now that they lost Danny Wuerffel. The last 7 games have been a fluke and UGA will return to dominance! (well, y’all did win the game that year)

August 2001 – The streak is over now that we have Richt. He owned the Gators when he was at FSU. (Richt’s career record is 2-7)

August 2002 – The streak is over! The gators cannot win without Spurrier (UGA is 2-6 since SOS left. That includes a win over lame duck Zook)

August 2010 – The streak is over! The Gators cannot win without Tebow and Strong!

Anyone see a pattern here?

This is so true, just wanted to give a shout out to Gator Guy–these folks
just can’t handle the truth. Nice work.

LHardingDawg

August 20th, 2010
4:51 pm

Gatorbait – I see what you are getting at and I hope you are wrong. Only time will tell.

Tide Rising

August 20th, 2010
4:57 pm

3rdn8,

Like anything the news media often gives a distorted view of what actually happened. And in Saban’s case they always disliked him because he was always gruff towards the media and hated dealing with them-it was a waste of time in his view. What happened was just their way of getting back at him.

Dolphins owner Wayne Heizengua himself said that Saban left on good terms with him and kept him appraised after the pro season ended as to where his mind was at and what he was thinking. This was from Heizenga himself. You just wouldn’t know it though because the media is like a pool of hungry sharks in a feeding frenzy.

The truth of the matter is that when bama first approached Saban he refused to speak with Bama and told his agent he wouldn’t talk to them till after the season. When he said he wouldn’t be the coach at bama it was because he assumed as most rational people did that Bama would then get Rich Rod. The media just doesn’t like to point that out.

Score Check

August 20th, 2010
5:04 pm

Sure they can win it all. Of course it wont hurt if their opponents starting QBs get hurt and can’t finish the game. .i.e. Colt McCoy

Sam Bradford

August 20th, 2010
5:12 pm

Score check,

I know what ya mean. It sucked that I got hurt in the 1st qtr in our 16-13 loss to Texas.

ugaclassof2004

August 20th, 2010
5:13 pm

For those of you who think that this team will go 10-2 this year, what are ya’ll smoking?

We have a freshman QB WHO HAS YET TO TAKE A SNAP in a NCAA Football game.

We have a defense that is learning a new scheme.

We have a DECENT O-Line and a DECENT running game.

The only thing I feel confident about with this team are the special teams and WR AJ Green. AJ Green and Drew Butler have proven to me that they can deliver on a regular basis. Everything else is a question mark.

I mean not even David Greene and Matt Stafford won 10 games their first year as a starter. Stafford in particular was downright awful in some games his freshman year until he put it all together towards the end of that season. And Murray has nowhere near Matt Stafford’s ability.

Until I see the production on the field, I will keep my standards realistic with this team. Considering all the question marks, 8 or 9 wins would be a great season.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
5:14 pm

Score Check – It would seem that target acquisition would be a primary objective.

Fred

August 20th, 2010
5:22 pm

Tide Rising: I have to agree with you on the “character” issue. I’ve never seen anything from Saban that would make me doubt his character, quite the opposite. In fact he IS a character. He’s tough on players? Isn’t he SUPPOSED to be tough on players? I realize I’m considered old now, but I went to school back in the day when paddling was not only legal, it was the norm. And our football coach ALWAYS found an excuse to give his players a lick or two each year. He was a HUGE dude to. Made Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a sissy (before Arnie turned old lol). He had a special paddle with holes drilled in it to cut down the wind resistance.

There was none of that “Coach disrespected me. I need my mommy to come dry my tears” crap back then. Football is a MAN’S game, not a sissy soccer he touched me sport. Ass chewing’s come with the territory. I don’t know how old you are, but the best moment for me in College football is when Woody Hayes punched that sissy from another team for taunting him. It was beautiful. I loved that Oregon player last year bitch slapping the taunting Boise State player after the game.

Saban is too tough on the players my fat hairy butt. He gets them to be the best players they can be. Now THAT is character.

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
5:23 pm

G8R Grad – I don’t know who wins a hypothetical game between GT and FSU, but I do know who won real games between GT and FSU in 2008 and 2009

third quarter fan

August 20th, 2010
5:26 pm

It won’t be hypo in Charlotte….

[...] Handle the hype? It’s been a fun week counting down our Top 25 teams for 2010. It will come as no surprise to you that I have Alabama at No. [...]

Fred

August 20th, 2010
5:35 pm

Score Check

August 20th, 2010
5:04 pm

Sure they can win it all. Of course it wont hurt if their opponents starting QBs get hurt and can’t finish the game. .i.e. Colt McCoy.
++++++++++++++++

Yeah that was sweet wasn’t it? Maybe Mack Brown should have thought of that when he was hanging 70 points on his opponents. Maybe somewhere in the back of his tiny little mind when he was up 30 or 40 to ZIP after the first half he should have said to himself, “Maybe I should put the back-up quarterback in to get some game time experience in case Colt McCoy ever gets hurt.”

Had he done THAT, that poor kid that got tossed in virtually untried in the NCS game would ahve had about half a season’s worth of experience behind him.

But no, it’s better to hang 70 points on your opponent (sportsmanship is over rated anyways) by letting your starting players annihilate the other team after it’s clear you are much better than they are than to just win the game and give some of your other players a chance to grow, mature, and get some real gametime experience.

So how did that work out for Mack Brown?

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
5:35 pm

Hypo in Charlotte?
I think FSU will win the Atlantic. Much as I would like it, I just can’t see GT winning the Coastal this year – I expect 2 losses in conference.

Mack Brown quote

August 20th, 2010
5:37 pm

“If they want to stop us from scoring 60-70 pts then they should just put a defense out there to stop us from scoring that much.” -Mack Brown

Fred

August 20th, 2010
5:45 pm

Mack Brown quote

August 20th, 2010
5:37 pm

“If they want to stop us from scoring 60-70 pts then they should just put a defense out there to stop us from scoring that much.” -Mack Brown
+++++++++++++

And Alabama did, they knocked out there super stud QB leaving a back up that had about 3 snaps in game situations. SO again I asked, how did that work out for Mack Brown in the NCS game?

Fred

August 20th, 2010
5:58 pm

THEIR, not there. I am guilty of my pet “grammatical” peeve on forums.

Delbert D.

August 20th, 2010
6:00 pm

Paul – 4-way, 10-2 records in the Coastal. Could happen.

Goalie Head

August 20th, 2010
6:01 pm

Hey Tony/AJC:

My last post was at 8:27 a.m. this morning. Someone else tried to post using cursewords, acting like me, that was not me. please ban their isp.

Thank you.

Goalie Head

August 20th, 2010
6:03 pm

Sorry, my last post, besides the one a minute ago, was at 8;37 this morning, the ones after that were someone trying to make me look like I curse.

Richt's Rule

August 20th, 2010
6:05 pm

Richt’s record against UF:

0-1 (spurrier)
1-2 (zook) — yes, you read that right
1-4 (meyer)

2-7–enough said. In 2010, make it 2-8 — this florida team is loaded with top flight talent. Florida gets another blowout win–book it.

Bama Tide Roll

August 20th, 2010
6:09 pm

Bama’s team may be better than last year! Look for two blowouts over florida. Auburn? Get real–they were a flash in the pan last year. Saban’s going to beat them like a rented mule.

Paul in RDU

August 20th, 2010
6:28 pm

Delbert – I see GT losing the Coastal on the head to head tiebreak against VT

Atlanta Gator

August 20th, 2010
6:54 pm

Goofy statement of the day:

“Urban Meyer is a head trip who has never stayed more than six seasons in the same job.”

Urban Meyer has been a head coach for ten years. He has had three head coaching jobs: (1) Bowling Green (2001-2002); (2) Utah (2003-2004); and Florida (2005-2010). He has spent six of his ten years as a head coach in his present job. He’s also the winningest active coach in Division I football among those who have coached for five or more seasons, having won 84.2% of all games as a head coach, six of seven bowl games, and two national championships.

Yup. He’s really flaky and unstable.

DP

August 20th, 2010
7:01 pm

Fred, your recollection of the Woody Hayes incident has apparently gotten fuzzy over the years. The Clemson player didn’t taunt anybody, he just made the mistake of intercepting a pass to seal an Ohio State loss and running out of bounds on the Ohio State sideline.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEVJyf0ft3I&feature=related

Watching an old man lose his composure and blindsiding a young football player with a forearm shiver to the neck is your best moment in college football?

obomaisaclown

August 20th, 2010
7:03 pm

Bama can’t win with an average offense this year.

Jim

August 20th, 2010
7:22 pm

It will be a great season for Alabama to go undefeated in the west and lost to Georgia in Atlanta.

SMILE

August 20th, 2010
7:53 pm

The only way Georgia gets to the dome is to buy a ticket.

TampaGator

August 20th, 2010
7:54 pm

When you lose Brandon Spikes and MLB and replace him with Jelani Jenkins and Joe Bostic…that is a reload.

When you lose Joe Haden at CB and replace him with either Jeremy Brown, Moses Jenkins, Joshua Shaw, or Jaylen Watkins….that is a reload.

When you lose Dunlap and Cunningham at DEs and replace them with Justin Trattou, William Green, Duke Lemmens, and Ronald Powell….that is a reload.

When you lose Major Wright and replace him with Will Hill and then replace Will Hill with Matt Elam….that is a reload.

When you lose Ryan Stamper at OLB and replace him with Brandon Hicks…that is a reload.

When you lose Maurkice Pouncey and replace him with Mike Pouncey…that is more than a reload…that is the #1 center in the country replaces the #1 center in the country.

When Mike Pouncey moves to center and you replace him with James Wilson and Maukice Hurt….that is more than a reload…that is replacing a great guard with two awesome guards.

When you lose Tim Tebow and replace him with John Brantley….your passing game becomes much better and the running game becomes less predictable.

When you lose Aaron Hernandez you hope Jordan Reed and Gerald Christian live up to the hype….becasue Hernandez was really, really good.

When you lose Riley Cooper and replace him with Carl Moore….you just reloaded with a very talented WR.

Yeah….Florida lost some talent….but 3 great years of recruiting just means that outstanding talent is being replaced by more outstanding talent.

Florida is the reloaded team to beat in the East….and Bama is going to have their hands full when the Gators come to town as well.

Bucky

August 20th, 2010
8:00 pm

Tony:

Someone posed as me after my last post, which was 8:43 this morning. Just wanted you to know. I’d appreciate you not allowing whoever posted under my name after 8:43, besides this post, to post anymore on your blog.

Fred

August 20th, 2010
8:21 pm

DP

August 20th, 2010
7:01 pm

The Clemson player didn’t taunt anybody,
++++++++++++

Try pulling your head out of your ass and watching that clip again, your buttcheeks apparently inhibited your view. That asshat was definitely taunting when he got up, but that wasn’t the play I was referring to.

There was a better one lol.

Cheesehead

August 20th, 2010
9:07 pm

Big Phil Steele fan like millions of colelge football geeks, Steele’s the most accurate forecaster over the last 5 years, even last 10 years, doesn’t pick Alabama or Florida at #1 pre-season. Steele has Alabama at #3, Florida at #7.

Steele feels Alabama will not finish #1, because of the 6 games off the bye, the really hard SEC schedule, and considering the close games Alabama had last year, hard to imagine being as lucky in the close games as 2010. 4 road games will be brutal. The prospect of facing Florida once in the season, and again in the SEC Championship doesn’t help Alabama’s chances either. And only 2 guys return on the defense.

For Florida, their rushing game will not be as strong, defense lost 7 guys, their schedule is also realy, really tough, Georgia-Alabama-FSU all road games, only 5 return on defense, and then if they beat Alabama in the season, they could face Alabama again in the SEC Championship.

On Steele’s website, they point out that Charlie Strong and Tebow’s absence will be huge for Florida.

R.U.KIDDEN-ME???

August 20th, 2010
9:10 pm

@ TAMPON GATOR,YOUR GUY’S PLAY A FINESSE TYPE OF FOOTBALL & AS YOU’LL SEE COME OCTOBER IN TITLE TOWN (YOU’VE SEEN IT BEFORE)PURE SMASHMOUTH!!! YOUR GUY’S ARE AS SOFT AS A BABIES A$$ & THIS TIME URBAN CRIER JUST MIGHT REALLY HAVE SOME SHO’ NUFF MEDICAL PROBLEM’S!! WHAT SABAN & CO. ARE PUTTING TOGETHER AIN’T EXACTLY CHOPPED LIVER CHUMP,HE’S RELOADING AS WELL!! SHOULD BE A HELLUVA GAME!!! SEE YOU THERE!!!