I've been reading countless articles on B/R, ESPN, CBSSportsline, Fox Sports and pretty much anywhere else that delivers an opinion on the upcoming college football season since the National Championship, and almost every article, besides Phil Steele's rankings, says the same thing: Alabama is No. 1, but will face immense adversity carrying around a depleted defense that loses nine starters.
Let's get something straight here folks, biased opinion or not, Alabama is without a doubt the best team in the country, and here's why.
Alabama has arguably the best coaching staff in the country, and rightfully so.
Obviously Nick Saban is great head coach, but its his supporting cast that truly delivers the goods that makes every other staff look obsolete. The entire staff is exceptional, but Kirby Smart is one of the, if not the best defensive minds in the game and will only get better under the tutelage of the Sabanator.
Alabama also has one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country in Scott Cochran, who is a complete nut—(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt7VPFYDdzk),
But, he prepares the players exceptionally well for fourth quarter action and beyond.
This one is a no brainer.
Alabama has had a top recruiting class every year under 'Little Nicky' and we all know, the better athletes a school brings in, the better success the program will have.
Granted, there will always be the "Darrell Scotts" of the recruiting world, but in most cases than not, teams would rather have 5-star talent than 3-star talent, and that is exactly what Alabama has been able to compile.
Saban doesn't recruit football players, he recruits student-athletes that are high-character guys. With the success Saban has had on the recruiting trail, Alabama poses to have a dominant team, year in and year out.
Anyone that watches college football, knows how powerful 'Bama really is, but for all those people that lived under boulders for the past 12 months, let me throw out a few facts about the offense this year:
The team returns eight starters to an already superb group that includes a Heisman Trophy winner, a quarterback that has not lost a game as a starter since the eighth grade, an All-Sec receiver and three returning starters on a great offensive line.
What may go unnoticed is that the team has tremendous depth at every single position, especially running back, where some critics say Mark Ingram's backup, Trent Richardson, might even be the best back on the team.
The offense will be able to push the ball and score at will. I'm not going to lie, it might get a little unfair at times.
Can everyone stop jumping on the defensive inexperience bandwagon, please.
Numerous sources have brainwashed readers and listeners into thinking that the defense will be the outright achilles heel of the Alabama football team. Let me just inform you that it will not! (the special teams will, but that's for completely different article).
Yes the defense loses nine starters, but they return some big time playmakers that will have heads spinning during the year. The two starters returning are Mark Barron and Dont'a Hightower and I expect them not only to play exceptionally well, but to become serious leaders on and off the field, which will be crucial due to the lost leadership in the 2009 class.
Marcell Darius, if declared eligible, will only improve on his 6.5 sack 2009 campaign, now that he will be a full time starter. The linebackers look solid, with Nico Johnson, Jerrell Harris and Courtney Upshaw all playing with past game experience.
The secondary, other than Barron, has been the most scrutinized—rightfully so. The other safety position is up for grabs, but it's looking like it's leaning towards Robert Lester, who apparently has been looking good in camp.
The cornerback positions are also completely up for grabs, but I expect Dre Kirkpatrick and B.J. Scott to lock them down. Yes, the secondary will sport lots of inexperience, but folks, you could not ask for a better secondary coach than Nick Saban.
Overall, I obviously don't expect the defense to be as good as they were in 2009, but with the great coaching Alabama has, I expect them to be very good.
In the end, you have to look past the 'trendy' opinion that Alabama's defense will hold them back from repeating as National Champions because they have loads of talent that got in situational packages during the 2009 campaign.
Also, it's interesting to note that since this will be Saban's fourth season as head coach, he actually won the National Title with seniors that he didn't even recruit.
An already tough schedule became even more crippling as it was apparent that six teams will be playing Alabama coming off their bye, but with the depth the Tide has and Scotty Cochran on their side, I see Alabama going into every week fresh, and ready to roll.
Everyone knows how effective the offense is capable of being, but if 'Bama is able to establish a consistent kicking game, then I have no doubt in my mind the Crimson Tide will turn the table again and bring back another title to Tuscaloosa.