Ho-Hum, Number 1; Tide Tops AP Poll

There are college football communities in this country where there would be a parade for less. Alabama was the near-unanimous choice as the pre-season number one football team in the highly regarded Associated Press poll. It barely produced a conversation in Tuscaloosa.

It is not unusual for the defending national champion to get a lot of votes (the "national champion until someone beats them" theory), but, of course, the Alabama that opens the season against San Jose State on Sept. 4 is not the same team that defeated Texas for the unanimous 2009 national championship on Jan. 7.

True, the Crimson Tide of 2010 has a number of players who were good enough to play on last year's undefeated team, including 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. It would be unusual for a national championship team to completely fall off the radar the following year. Bama also has a proven coaching staff, particularly Nick Saban, who many regard as the best in the business.

Alabama followers aren't ignoring the importance of being pre-season number one. It's just that the news from the world's largest news organization was old news. Alabama was already pre-season number one in just about every pre-season poll.

Most polls also have Ohio State number two, and that was the case with the AP rankings.

Alabama got 54 of the 60 first play votes in the pre-season poll. Ohio State got three.

Boise State got one vote and was third in the rankings. The final 12 teams in the AP pre-season poll are USC, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Arkansas, North Carolina, Penn State, Florida State, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, Oregon State, and West Virginia. Would Boise State have a break-even record against that schedule?

Texas (fifth overall) and Oklahoma (seventh) got the other first place votes.

Filling out the rest of the top 12, Florida was fourth, TCU sixth, followed by 8. Nebraska, 9. Iowa, 10. Virginia Tech, 11. Oregon, and 12. Wisconsin.

No one asked Saban about the poll in the post-scrimmage press briefing Saturday. Who wants to hear "The only poll that matters is the last one"? Actually, Saban would have a whole lot more to say about a pre-season poll, but you get the idea. In truth, a pre-season high ranking does help. It helps in recruiting, it helps in ticket sales, it helps in ESPN coverage (see the Alabama marathon of the past few weeks), and it's easier to stay on top with an undefeated record than to claw up to number one from back in the pack, which could take years.

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