The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

July 21, 2013

Stakes high for Crimson Tide as season approaches

— The Tuscaloosa News on the Alabama Crimson Tide and preseason expectations:

College football’s national championship has often been called “mythical.” Why a football team that perseveres through a long and grueling regular season, wins one or more postseason games and convinces a broad panel of voters that it’s the best team around is less a champion than a basketball team that gets hot at the end of the season and wins five tournament games, we can’t say.

But because big-time college football doesn’t have an NCAA-sanctioned championship or a playoff, the football championship has long been considered subjective. ...

If this were Jeopardy, the card would read: Alabama, Alabama, Alabama. And the question is, “Which college football team is the reigning national champion, recruiting champion and preseason favorite?”

Notre Dame players were still icing down bruises from the BCS National Championship Game tilt with the Crimson Tide when Alabama snared what a number of experts said was the best recruiting class in the country. Last week, annual preseason magazines were virtually unanimous in naming the Tide the favorite to win a third straight national championship on the field.

More than 30 years ago, coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant would likely have responded with feigned distress and protested that his team was more devoid of talent than any SEC team except Vanderbilt (which demonstrates that things do change, since Vanderbilt is pretty good these days). But there would also be a barely perceptible undercurrent of satisfaction, as well. When the occupant of the University of Alabama head coach’s office is inevitably asked about this subject at SEC Media Days, it will likely unleash an angry diatribe. Coach Nick Saban knows the difficult road that lies ahead for his team.

Should Alabama live up to expectations this year, it would be historic. ...

Will Alabama stay focused? Will it make history? In the middle of summer, amid the somnolent buzz of crickets and cicadas, all is possible. For now, Alabama reigns supreme on the field, on the recruiting trail and in the preseason predictions.

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