Rob Maaddi, FISM News
Nick Saban’s Alabama team begins the season in a familiar spot.
The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the preseason USA Today coaches’ poll for the seventh time in the past 13 seasons. The Associated Press preseason Top 25 will be released on Aug. 15.
USA Today released the coaches’ poll Monday with Ohio State ranked No. 2 and defending national champion Georgia ranked third.
Alabama received 54 first-place votes from a panel of 66 major college football coaches. The Crimson Tide lost to the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff title game last season.
The Buckeyes received five first-place votes and Georgia got six. No. 18 Texas also received a first-place vote.
Clemson enters the season No. 4 and Notre Dame is No. 5. Michigan, coming off its first CFP appearance, was sixth, followed by Texas A&M, Utah, Oklahoma, and Baylor to round out the top 10.
Breaking: The Preseason Coaches Poll has been released 🚨 pic.twitter.com/1PjZ1MqWcj
— Saturday Gameday (@SaturdayGameday) August 8, 2022
Alabama has won six national titles under coach Nick Saban since 2009 and 18 overall in program history.
“We’re obviously very excited about the challenges of the season, but even more excited about what you have to do to try to develop a team, a team that can play with consistency, guys that can go out there and give the kind of effort, play with the kind of mental toughness, ability to sustain, execute, do their job together as a unit and have the kind of team chemistry that promotes the togetherness that you want on a team so that you can be successful,” Saban said at Fall Media Day. “And the next challenge is, can you sustain that?”
The prickly Saban wasn’t excited about the lofty expectations from the media.
“It’s kind of interesting to me that I see articles every day that, you all have decided already what kind of team we’re going to have, what the expectations are for the team,” he said. “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. But it is a challenge that we’re willing to deal with and hopefully, we’ve got the right kind of leadership on our team to be able to overcome some of that so that we can avoid complacency and stay focused on doing the right things, deal with success if we have success, be able to deal with frustrations if we have failures. I think how we manage all those kind of things will determine what kind of team we really have.”
The Crimson Tide are led by quarterback Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner. In his first season as a starter, Young set single-season school records for passing yards (4,872) and touchdowns (47), was named the player of the year by The Associated Press, won the Maxwell Award, and earned the Davey O’Brien and Manning awards, which are both presented to the nation’s top quarterback.
Young credits his success to his Christian faith.
“I feel like that’s really where I get my power from,” he said last season. “My job is just to glorify God on the field, and I know that everything is written and I can have faith and trust in that.”
After winning the Heisman, Young again praised the Lord.
“This is amazing,” he said. “First and foremost, I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, I couldn’t be here. And through Him all things are possible.”
Young is projected to be a first-round pick in the NFL next year. He’d follow the same path as Alabama quarterbacks Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa. Jones was selected 10th overall by the New England Patriots in 2021 and led the team to its first playoff berth without Tom Brady in more than two decades.
Tagovailoa was the fifth overall pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2020. He’s 13-8 in two seasons as the starter and is facing an important season in 2022.