The Associated Press unveiled their pre-season college football poll today and the Alabama Crimson Tide were No. 1. Of the 60 sportswriters and broadcasters from across the country who cast ballots in the poll, 54 chose Alabama as the best team in the country.
Ohio State came in second with three first-place votes, but no other team besides the Tide and the Buckeyes received more than a single vote. Six SEC teams where ranked in the preseason top 25, with four of those teams coming from the SEC West. Florida and Georgia were the only members of the SEC East to be voted into the preseason rankings.
And believe it or not, for the Crimson Tide this is very unfamiliar territory. Interestingly enough, Alabama has started the season in the No. 1 slot of the AP poll only one time before, in 1978 (In 1966, Alabama was voted the pre-season No 1 team but was dropped to No. 3 in the poll before their season opener). And furthermore, the Crimson Tide have inaugurated their season in the AP's top five only a total of 16 times.
* Nine games from this season were later forfeited by the NCAA
For a program with thirteen national championships on its resume, some may find it surprising that Alabama hasn't been more of a staple on the higher end of the preseason polls. Furthermore, as an additional matter, Alabama hasn't frequently found itself at the top of the rankings throughout the season either.
Since the Associated Press began ranking teams in 1936, Alabama has entered games ranked No. 1 on only 29 occasions, boasting a 23-6-0 record (.793) in those contests.
The reasoning behind this should perhaps come as no real surprise. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, Alabama has never been a team that has been historically hyped in media circles. Traditionally speaking, you can look through our history and find that even most of our greatest national championship teams didn't earn a number one ranking until very late in the year, when everyone else had either fallen by the wayside or had been defeated by the Tide.
That same song and dance largely played out in 1961, 1964, 1973, 1978, 1992, and 2009, which is to say nothing of the Bryant teams in 1966 and 1973 that were arguably robbed by the pollsters of their rightful crowns. The years in which the national media quickly jumped on the 'Bama bandwagon early in the season are indeed few and far in between.
For our 2010 team, though, none of that likely matters. As defending national champions, we've largely assumed our rightful place for now. We're still ranked number one, and should retain that lofty status until someone knocks us off of our perch. No team could legitimately ask for more with the dawn of a new season near. Who knows where the season goes from here, but if you must start somewhere then you may as well start on top.