Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are beginning the quest for something that has never been done in history by seeking a third consecutive National Championship title.
Saban and Co. have started down the right path by being voted the No. 1 team in the country in The Associated Press' preseason college football poll, gaining 58 of 60 votes according to CBS.
Unfortunately Alabama received some bad news Sunday morning as sophomore cornerback Geno Smith was arrested by Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for driving under the influence. Andrew Gribble of AL.com first reported the news.
Saban and Alabama have since released a statement on the issue via the team's official Twitter account:
The arrest is the first time Alabama has been in the news since February when D.J. Pettway, Eddie Williams, Tyler Hayes and Brent Calloway were dismissed from the team for various charges.
Smith's future has yet to be determined, but at first glance it is a serious issue for the team moving forward in its pursuit of the title.
The sophomore came on as a freshman and ended up appearing in all 13 games. His presence was expected to go a long way in replacing Dee Milliner, who took his talents to the NFL with the New York Jets.
In reality, the good news for Alabama is if anything comes of this arrest for Smith, the football team will be just fine.
Saban has done the impossible and built a modern dynasty within the confines of today's world of college football. The team has something most other college team's don't—depth. The presence, or lack thereof, of a sophomore cornerback is not going to make or break the team's chances at a title.
Remember that Smith still has to battle John Fulton, Bradley Sylve and a host of others for the right to earn playing time across from senior Deion Belue. While reports, including Gribble's, have stated Smith has improved this offseason, there was no guarantee he would enter the season as a starter.
Smith recorded nine tackles and two pass breakups last year while acting as a bigger corner at 6'0" and 186 pounds. Fulton comes in at the same measurement but recorded 15 tackles and five pass breakups last year. The point is, Fulton could have easily stolen playing time from Smith anyway, as could have several other defensive backs.
Make no mistake—corner is a critical position for Alabama going into next season. Alabama has a matchup with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel on September 14. Considering the Heisman Trophy winner was responsible for Alabama' lone loss a year ago, it's a game in which Alabama is going to need to be at full strength.
For Alabama to repeat as champs the team is going to need an undefeated record as it is hard to imagine a team with one loss jumping an undefeated Pac-12 or Big 12 squad, but again, this is one of the deeper teams to has ever been assembled.
Smith's arrest is an unfortunate black eye, but Saban has done a good enough job padding his roster with talent to overcome the issue. On a team this deep, it's hard to name one player whose loss would spell ruin to a season. Title hopes? Maybe.
The potential absence of Smith won't dash those title hopes.
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