I’ll end the suspense quickly.
I picked Alabama No. 1.
I also feel strongly about some Kardashian, any Kardashian, peeking at me from a tabloid cover at the grocery store sometime soon. I like Meryl Streep’s chances of getting nominated for an Oscar. I think there’s a fairly high likelihood Metta World Peace will do something goofy again. And ARod will go away entirely before I pick someone else at the top of the poll. Yeah, no time soon.
Alabama? Now that’s a sure thing, since the Crimson Tide have won three of the last four.
Good for college football? I’m not so certain. We need more drama. Nick, give us a break.
And when the BCS gives way to the CFP next year, Saban only increases his chances of winning with one shot in four to get in the playoff rather than one shot in two.
But before the season, Alabama’s a better choice than Matt Damon at the box office. They’re such a lock that Vegas would take the Tide over the house.
By the way, I also picked 24 other teams on my initial Associated Press college football ballot because the New York City office asked me to. Apparently we are required to fill out all 25 teams even though we already know Alabama’s going to win the national championship because Alabama always wins the national championship.
But we’ll play along.
My next top four goes Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Texas A&M.
The official top four, after Alabama, reads the same but with Georgia fifth.
It’s not 1990 any more, is it, boys and girls? Oregon and Stanford among the top three? Oklahoma a modest 16th, snapping a streak of 12 straight top 10 preseason rankings? What in the name of Bud Wilkinson’s going on? No Big 12 team in the top 10 at all? That’s a first since 1992 for Big 12/Big Eight teams. Bill Snyder’s certainly not going to take that lying down. Texas 15th, with 19 starters back? The late Darrell Royal — man, I hate typing that adjective — would wonder but know that potential means you ain’t done it yet.
In truth, I had planned to seriously consider the Aggies for the top spot, and here’s why.
Johnny Manziel was — and as of the minute I write this, still is — the best player in college football. The offensive line should be very, very good, even without Luke Joeckel. I don’t even think Alabama can match A&M’s offensive backfield. Ryan Swope is gone, but Mike Evans isn’t.
Equally important, the Aggies have eight home games and have to travel only to Arkansas, which is breaking in a new coach and new system; Ole Miss, which only won seven games and a lot of recruiting headlines in the last 12 months; LSU, which I think lost its entire team to the NFL; and Missouri, which last I checked is still Missouri. That doesn’t mean the Aggies will win all their games at Kyle Field, but I like their chances there against the likes of Rice, Sam Houston State, SMU, Auburn, Vanderbilt, UTEP and Mississippi State, don’t you?
Now there is that little eligibility issue for the quarterback, and with that still unresolved, I moved the Aggies from any consideration as No. 1 to No. 5, which puts them clearly in striking distance. The AP Poll’s got the Aggies even lower, at seventh.
Personally, I give the Buckeyes a great shot at supplanting Alabama. Easy enough schedule. Toughest games at home. Returning quarterback.
The tandem of Oregon and Stanford could provide a worthy challenger to Alabama. The Ducks have the offense, the Cardinal the defense. Neither plays anyone too rough outside the Pac-12, save for Stanford’s finale with Notre Dame.
South Carolina, Georgia and Florida all could make runs at Bama. They’re SEC teams, aren’t they?
Clemson’s got the firepower, Louisville’s got the quarterback and the soft schedule.
TCU at 20th and Texas are lurking, Oklahoma State’s the media pick to win the league and the highest-ranked Big 12 team at 13th, Baylor’s about to turn Lache Seastrunk loose in its swan song at Floyd Casey, and should anyone ever really discount Oklahoma? Here’s a real chance for a rebuilding Big 12 to show up large and produce an elite team or two.
Deep down, I have a hunch that something will catch up to Alabama. A shade of complacency. A bad injury here or there. Bum luck. The Aggies. Everyone’s after Bama.
In truth, it’d probably be better if Alabama didn’t repeat. Again.
I love it when a certain team raises the bar and gives everyone else a target to shoot at. But I don’t want to see this become women’s basketball, and I’m not talking about the new targeting rule. I don’t want to see college football evolve into women’s hoops when we wait to see if Connecticut or Tennessee wins another crown. It’s more interesting if a Baylor interrupts the dynasty.
When I asked Mack Brown if he believes most coaches are rooting against the Tide, the Texas football coach said, “I think some of us would like to win it. You’ve got to give Alabama credit. They’ve won it. If we’re gonna talk, somebody else is going to have to win it.”
Could Texas be that somebody? Wouldn’t totally stun me.
But I’m not that sold yet on the Longhorns.
The Crimson Tide, on the other hand? Bigger lock than half the team on Bill Belichick’s weekly injury report.
“Give ‘em credit for what they’ve accomplished,” Brown said. “They’ve been able to run the ball and stop the run pretty well. Those are pretty important things, and they’ve recruited well and they’ve got depth.”
Sounds like a preseason No. 1 team to me.
How American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls voted on his preseason Top 25 ballot for the Associated Press poll:
2. Ohio State
5. Texas A&M
6. South Carolina
15. Oklahoma State
16. Notre Dame
17. Florida State
21. Boise State
24. Ole Miss