Alabama Repeat Won't Be Easy

Without forgetting for one moment that Alabama football is a process, our contention has long been that one can have a goal as long as one continues to focus on the means rather than the end. Alabama football players who were a part of the 2009 national championship are working hard to be as good as they can be in hopes of a return to the throne room.

It will not be the same Alabama team that went 14-0 in 2009 going after success in 2010. A number of top performers on last season's team have moved on, some of them headed to professional football. Others—many choosing the Crimson Tide in part because of the championship tradition in Tuscaloosa—are preparing for Signing Day activities on Wednesday, when they become famed new members of Alabama football.

A handful of those newcomers are already on campus, getting a head start academically, physically, emotionally, and socially. And right now most of them are probably thinking the emphasis is on "physically" as they have joined their new Bama teammates in going through the off-season program known as "The Fourth Quarter." This is under the auspices of strength and conditioning coaches and is designed to build a championship football team.

So far, so good.

Alabama will be attempting to do something that is very difficult in the upcoming season, which is to repeat as national champion. Most experts think that will take another undefeated season. Analysts have looked at the teams and the schedules and predicted as many as a half dozen undefeated teams in 2010. Even though that includes some non-BCS teams playing woeful schedules, there is sentiment to include the Boise States of the world in the national championship conversation. (And, frankly, Alabama's lethargic performance against Utah in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2008 season is ammunition for that position.)

But as every coach in every sport has proclaimed for decades, Alabama can only worry about the things it can control. That's what Tide Coach Nick Saban will be working on.

Most believe Alabama will open up as number one when pre-season polls are announced in August. Maybe so, maybe not. Certainly the Crimson Tide of Coach Nick Saban will be among the leaders, and being in position in August is all that matters. An Alabama that wins all its games will be in the national championship game at the end of the year.

Alabama has had considerable success in the repeat.

The Crimson Tide's 1925 national championship was followed by another in 1926. The 1965 championship followed the 1964 title. Bama was national champion in both 1978 and 1079.

Not to be looking ahead, but the Tide has also had some very near misses for three in a row. In 1966, Alabama was two-time defending champion and was the nation's only team to go undefeated and untied, but the voters selected Notre Dame. In 1977, Alabama played perhaps the nation's toughest schedule and was the highest team in bowl games to win, but voters against passed over the Tide for...Notre Dame.

Alabama also came within inches of being a 1961 and 1962 repeater, a two-point conversion try against Georgia Tech preventing the Tide from a second straight undefeated season in 1962.

With 13 titles, Alabama has been a regular in national championship conversation.

The Associated Press college football poll began in 1936. Alabama was fourth in the first poll. The Crimson Tide has finished in the top ten 33 times and in the top five 18 times. It's seven national championships is the most of any team in AP history.

Alabama has won 26 of its 28 games over the past two seasons, including all 24 regular season games. The 2010 schedule has more than its share of minefields. Although the non-conference schedule has some patsies, it also includes Penn State in Bama's second game of the season on September 11 in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama has played Florida in the last two Southeastern Conference Championship Games. On October 2 the Gators come to Tuscaloosa, without quarterback Tim Tebow, but presumably with Coach Urban Meyer. Ole Miss is not expected to be strong, but that's when Rebels Coach Houston Nutt usually does his best work. Bama will host Mississippi October 16. Auburn is the regular season-ender on November 26 in Tuscaloosa.

There are formidable road games. Arkansas is the pick of many to be the surprise of the SEC in 2010 and Bama goes to Fayetteville on September 25. South Carolina is showing signs of improvement and the Tide will be in Columbia October 9. Tennessee was the team that came closest to derailing Alabama's title hopes last season and that was in Tuscaloosa. This year Bama goes to Knoxville on October 23. Alabama is the team LSU would love more than any other to defeat. The Tide will be in Baton Rouge November 6.

The SEC schedule is made particularly treacherous by what the conference would ask you to believe was random chance, six league opponents having open dates before playing Alabama.

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