Alabama should be furious about its No. 2 ranking on Reddit.com’s listing of America’s Most Hated College Teams.
In the head-coaching era of Nick Saban (2007-15), the Crimson Tide have claimed four SEC titles, four national championships and eight consecutive 10-win seasons — a streak which currently has no peer throughout the country (FBS level).
In terms of recruiting, according to 247Sports.com, Alabama has also landed the nation’s top-ranked class for six consecutive years (2011-16) — which essentially means the Crimson Tide coaches are experienced in the dark art of rejecting 4-star prep talents.
Think about that … a big-time school occasionally having no immediate need for prep All-Americans.
Also, for those living in the South, let’s just say that Alabama fans, while polite and social on football Saturdays, expect to win every game by 30-plus points — no matter the opponent or venue. (Sadly, that presumption played out in the Dec. 31 Cotton Bowl, with ‘Bama bashing Michigan State — my alma mater — by a 38-0 score.)
And what about the hilarious, but haughty inline photo (above) of Tide fans using the same banner to celebrate multiple titles? Put it all in perspective, and Alabama should be more loathsome, more distasteful, more intolerable than every other football program in the country.
And yet, in the eyes of Reddit.com, Ohio State shall carry that mantra into the 2016 season.
Such a pity.
Better dynasty: Mad Max at the Oscars or the Alabama football team? https://t.co/UFOFfgprbH
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) February 29, 2016
From early September to mid-November, the veteran-laden Buckeyes were probably the nation’s best team, on a collision course to face Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship — a de facto rematch of the CFP semifinals from January 2015 (Ohio State victory in the Sugar Bowl).
But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation … as the Buckeyes coaches, perhaps spooked by horrible weather in Columbus, Ohio, were way too conservative in a last-second, gut-wrenching loss to Michigan State (Nov. 21).
With that defeat, Ohio State waved bye-bye to its CFP hopes; by extension, head coach Urban Meyer (three national championships — two with Florida, one with OSU) momentarily missed out on matching Saban in the national-title chase.
(Saban now owns five national championship rings — four with Alabama, one with LSU.)
In fairness to the Reddit survey, Alabama must divvy up its in-state “hate” metric with Auburn, unlike Ohio State, which has no major rivals inside the state of Ohio. (Cincinnati? Bowling Green? Ohio U? Youngstown State? Meh.)
So, perhaps that played into Alabama’s lofty, but strangely deflating countdown status.
Adding insult to injury, Alabama must share its No. 2 hate ranking with Michigan — a factoid which can be entirely attributed to the arrival of Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh.
You think Brady Hoke or Rich Rodriguez were moving the hate meter during their forgettable tenures in Ann Arbor? Uh, no. Over the last 14 months, it’s been all about Harbaugh’s blog-friendly antics during the offseason, such as:
**National satellite camps (something SEC schools are not permitted to do)
**Spring Break practices in Florida (in SEC/ACC country)
**Signing Day extravaganzas headlined by wrestling icons
**Drawing eerie comparisons to presidential candidate Donald Trump
**Midnight meetings with recruits, awkwardly sold as “sleepovers”
**Shirtless photos during football drills, which automatically go viral
Saban has a similarly stellar knack for generating buzz in the media universe, especially during the season (best game-week rant ever!); but for the most part, he lets the wave of championships and countless NFL players do the talking.
And perhaps that’s why Alabama is disliked, but not obsessively despised, in America’s 48 contiguous states. (Hey Alaska, what’s with all the Crimson Tide hate?)
You see, in the Saban era, fans have developed more fear than hatred for the college-football version of the 800-pound gorilla.
Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media), has previously written for SI.com, The National Football Post, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports.