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Nick Saban dominates the AP Poll’s 84-year history

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During his time at Alabama, the Crimson Tide have racked up the votes.

NCAA Football: Alabama A-Day Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Alabama is the top-ranked team in the AP Poll.

The Crimson Tide garnered 42 of 61 first place votes (Clemson got 18; Wisconsin got 1), enough to secure their 7th preseason #1 ranking, the third most all-time after Oklahoma’s 10 and Ohio State’s 8 appearances. With no signs of Nick Saban slowing down soon, it’s easy to envision passing Ohio State and at least tying Oklahoma.

‘Bama’s previous preseason Number 1 appearances were in 1966, 1978, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2017. In two of those seasons (1978, 2017), the Tide went on to win the national championship (another good argument for 1966, as well). This marks the third straight preseason #1 ranking for Alabama, a feat only previously accomplished by Oklahoma from 1985-1987. Further, five of the Crimson Tide’s seven preseason Number 1 rankings have come under Saban.

That success under Saban extends to all appearances at Number 1. In school history, the Crimson Tide have been the #1 team in the AP Poll 104 times now, just one behind Ohio State. With victories over Louisville and Arkansas State, the Tide would almost assuredly pass the Buckeyes.

Of those 104 top-ranked weekly appearances, 73 have come under Saban — 70.19%. And, since his arrival, Alabama has been the AP’s No. 1 team 40.6% of the time. No other team has been ranked #1 more than 17 times. If you begin counting in 2008, that goes up to 44.5%.

In addition, this will be the 11th consecutive season Alabama is ranked #1 at some point in the year, the longest streak in the poll’s history — and the AP began publishing it’s rankings in 1934. Can Alabama go wire-to-wire as the number one team, though? It’s only been done twice before (1999 Florida State, 2004 USC).

Finally, let’s look at just Nick Saban. Before the season even begins, he’s coached more games as the No. 1 team than anyone else, active or all-time. In fact, Saban has more wins at #1 than any coach has games played. Bobby Bowden and Woody Hayes coached 45 games as the #1 team. Saban has played in 62 — and won 55 of those.

Not too shabby.