For about a century, there were three longstanding truisms about Alabama football: Alabama never had a Heisman winner, Alabama never won a national title with a Republican in the White House, and Alabama has never won a national title when being tabbed the No. 1 team in the nation.
Nick Saban has upended the apple cart as to the first two of these, but the latter is still true: Alabama has never won a national title when being the nation’s preseason top dog. This season, Alabama is firmly in second place behind Clemson...even in Vegas.
And that’s just how we like it.
Yesterday, some of the offshore books began dropping preseason odds to win the College Football Playoff Championship, and, if you want to make some decent money, you could do a whole lot worse than laying some early scratch on the Tide:
Mich, OU 14-1
LSU, Texas 25-1
ND, Wash 30-1
UF, Oregon, Neb, A&M 40-1
FSU, Iowa, Miami, MissSt, PennSt, USC, Utah, WashSt 100-1
MichSt, OkSt, TCU, VT 200-1
Right off the bat there are some sucker bets in here: Nebraska, Oregon (40/1) and Auburn (60/1) are just throwing away money. Alabama at 5/2 is very favorable, considering the Tide was at even money at its longest odds last season. As for decent value? Oklahoma at 14/1 might be too low, honestly — if the Sooners can duck a super-physical team in the playoffs, who knows what would happen in a final showdown for the title. Ditto Georgia: The Bulldogs have some work to do retooling the passing game, but the defense should be oustanding and the running game is nasty.
Preseason sweetheart Texas as 7/1? Nah, skip that. It’s been five years now and Tom Herman still hasn’t shown that he can consistently win games. For every huge win over OU or Georgia, there are just as many losses to mediocre opponents and playing down to the competition. The Big 12 will be down-ish this season, so they’re worth taking for the conference title. But the natty? Show me the money first, Tom.
As for Clemson? Enjoy that rat poison for the whole summer, Uncle Clem. It’s pretty cool reading about how good your team is for nine months straight, while the media ignores serious deficiencies in your back-end and losing a ton of NFL defensive linemen. Don’t believe it? Ask me about 2017 and 2019.