Another mass exodus of NFL talent and another coordinator taking a head coaching job. As long as Alabama has Nick Saban and a cabal of 5-star talent, it doesn't matter.
The Crimson Tide are once again the nation's top-ranked team in the first Associated Press poll of the 2021 season that was released Monday. This is the first time Alabama has been the preseason No. 1 since 2018, after Clemson held the mantle the last two years. It's also the 100th week Alabama has held the top spot since Nick Saban joined the Crimson Tide in 2007, per Chris Fallica of ESPN.
Alabama or Clemson has topped the preseason poll each of the last six seasons. The Tigers dropped to No. 3 this season, one spot behind Oklahoma, with Ohio State and Georgia rounding out the top five.
Here is a look at how the remainder of the Top 25 played out.
4. Ohio State
6. Texas A&M
7. Iowa State
9. Notre Dame
10. North Carolina
19. Penn State
22. Coastal Carolina
25. Arizona State
Alabama is coming off its sixth national championship of the Saban era but will again be reshuffling talent on both sides of the ball. The team produced six first-round picks and eight players who were taken in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL draft.
Gone are Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Najee Harris, leaving Alabama with none of its top offensive contributors from last season.
The Tide are amid several position battles they hope will dictate the next era of dominance. Bryce Young is expected to take over for Jones under center, while John Metchie III seems destined to take over the spotlight as Young's top target. Running back is a bit of a question mark, but Brian Robinson is a fifth-year senior who will bring steadiness to the position if he wins the job.
Clemson is also heading into a new era with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne now teammates for the Jacksonville Jaguars. DJ Uiagalelei appears to be the favorite to win the starting quarterback job, with Lyn-J Dixon slated to take over at running back.
Oklahoma will be steadier this season with Spencer Rattler returning as quarterback and hopefully more consistency at the running back and receiver positions after a frustrating 2020.