We reviewed five preseason magazines — Athlon, ESPN, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and The Sporting News — and broke down their team-by-team predictions.
Sunday, we examine Alabama. Here is what’s being said about the Crimson Tide:
Lindy’s (1st in SEC West — No. 1, College Football Playoff): “Let’s not overthink this. Alabama has the best players. Game over. Alabama has the best damn players. Mic drop.”
Athlon (1st in SEC West — No. 1, 12-1, College Football Playoff): “The recruit-and-replace system has become near-automatic in Tuscaloosa, making Alabama our preseason No. 1 team. The names change. The results do not.”
Sporting News (1st in SEC West — No. 1, College Football Playoff): “Nick Saban’s ‘Death Star’ continues to spin, and the Crimson Tide will seek a fifth national championship since he took over as head coach in 2007.”
Phil Steele (1st in SEC West [tied] — No. 2, College Football Playoff): “Why do I not have a No. 1 in front of their team name? Two reasons: A common denominator in their four national titles is that they were NOT ranked No. 1 in the preseason in any of those four years … The second reason is the schedule. They face USC, Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU all away from home.”
ESPN (2nd in SEC West — No. 1, 8.8. projected wins, Orange Bowl*): “Every season is national championship or bust. So even with just 13 starters back, an SEC crown and a mere playoff appearance would be considered a letdown.”
*ESPN’s Top 25 rankings are based on analyst Mark Schlabach’s picks, while the bowl projections are based on analyst Brad Edwards’ picks and the division races are based on the Football Power Index; hence the discrepancies.
Preseason All-American selections: Calvin Ridley (1st, unanimous), Jonathan Allen (1st, unanimous), O.J. Howard (1st x1, 2nd x1), Cam Robinson (1st x4), Tim Williams (1st x1), JK Scott (1st x2, 2nd x1), Reuben Foster (1st x1, 2nd x4), Cole Mazza (1st x1), Eddie Jackson (2nd x4), Dalvin Tomlinson (2nd x1), Marlon Humprhey (3rd x1), Damien Harris (4th x1), Da’Shawn Hand (4th x1)
Preseason All-SEC selections: Calvin Ridley (1st, unanimous), Cam Robinson (1st, unanimous), Jonathan Allen (1st, unanimous), O.J. Howard (1st x2, 2nd x2), Reuben Foster (1st x4), Tim Williams (1st x1, 2nd x1, 3rd x1), Eddie Jackson (1st x4), JK Scott (1st x3), Cole Mazza (1st x1), Damien Harris (2nd x1), Da’Shawn Hand (2nd x1), Marlon Humprhey (2nd x1), ArDarius Stewart (3rd x1), Robert Foster (3rd x1), Ross Pierschbacher (3rd x2), Ryan Anderson (3rd x1), Adam Griffith (2nd x1, 3rd x2), Dalvin Tomlinson (1st x1, 3rd x1), Bo Scarbrough (3rd x1, 4th x1), Alphonse Taylor (4th x1), Minkah Fitzpatrick (2nd x1, 3rd x1, 4th x1)
- Lindy’s named Saban the No. 2 choice among coaches to be president: “Picture a Saban-Putin stare-down. Who blinks first? Damn sure it ain’t gonna be Saban. And in no time Saban would have Congress respecting his ‘Progress.’”
- Lindy’s on Lane Kiffin: “It’s now a matter of whether the Boy King’s ego will allow him to take a job in the Mountain West or Conference USA or … something like that. That might be his best route back to a Power 5 job.”
- ESPN spoke to an anonymous coach who had praise for Kiffin: “The games are in slow motion for Lane Kiffin on the sideline. He’s able to see the defense, call the play, help the guy.”
- Sporting News opened its issue with an introducation titled “Tide-al wave,” in which author Bill Bender spent a few hundred words pondering where Alabama’s biggest challenge for the national championship will come from. “There should be enough twists and turns on the way to the next College Football Playoff,” Bender wrote, “but the first page starts with the same old question. We’ll get the answer if Alabama loses.”
- Phil Steele pointed out that Alabama was No. 124 in his “experience ratings” last season, and it didn’t stop the Crimson Tide from winning the national title. This year, they’re No. 116, and it’s not giving Steele much pause.
- ESPN projected Alabama’s two toughest games to be at LSU (31 percent chance to win) and at Tennessee (41 percent).
- Athlon’s calculations had last year’s Crimson Tide’s defense ranked No. 2 in the nation in both efficiency (“rate of successful plays” based on down and distance) and explosiveness (“yards per play”).
- Lindy’s Q&A with Saban included a tidbit about Jake Coker: “Jake got pissed in the Ole Miss game when he didn’t start. He went in there and played like he should have played … we couldn’t get him to do that before. He was so worried about technically what he was supposed to do there was no personality in his play.”
- Sporting News said Calvin Ridley has the “best hands” in the conference, while Tim Williams was named “hardest hitter” and — shocker — Nick Saban was named “best coach.”
- Lindy’s on Heisman hopeful Bo Scarbrough: “Everybody outside of Tuscaloosa would absolutely lose their minds if ‘Bama won something else. Again.”
- Athlon had plenty of players to choose from as Alabama’s “rising star,” but settled on offensive lineman Lester Cotton, who “has shown the versatility to play both guard tackle. That adaptability will make him a candidate for any opening in a young unit.”
- Lindy’s called the opener vs. USC the nation’s No. 1 non-conference game this season.
- Lindy’s gave the Crimson Tide high national ranks on the defensive line (No. 1), linebacking corps (No. 1) and defensive backfield (No. 2).
- Athlon said Alabama has the No. 1 receivers, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs in the SEC, and the No. 1 defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs in the nation.
- Phil Steele gave national No. 1 rankings to the receivers, defensive linemen and linebackers.