You just never know what will get people stirred up. This time, it was a relatively benign blog including some early predictions about next football season.
Senior Editor Phillip Marshall
My early predictions have no more chance of being accurate than anybody else’s early predictions. It was all in fun. Or so I thought. I even wrote at the end that no one should keep it so I wouldn’t be embarrassed.
First came lots of email messages from Alabama fans. Then came some from some Auburn fans, more than one of which told me I should “take off my O&B glasses.”
I picked Auburn third in the West, so I’m not sure what it is about that prediction that would indicate O&B glasses. But, alas, I picked Alabama fourth. And that is what caused lots of angst.
I so wish everyone could understand that making those kinds of predictions doesn’t mean you become a fan and want them to come true. They are meant to entertain, create conversation, whatever. Why did I pick Alabama fourth in the West? Here’s why:
Alabama, like Auburn, will have a starting quarterback who has played little if at all. Alabama lost most of its impact players. Other than at running back, where Mark Ingram will be replaced by a perhaps better runner in Trent Richardson, it’s hard to see how the replacements will be as good.
Certainly, Alabama has lots of talent from the top of the roster to the bottom. It may have more than LSU or Arkansas, does have more than Auburn. But you don’t play 85 players, and you win with impact players.
Any prediction about the SEC this season is based on pure speculation. If I counted correctly, only two first-team All-SEC players return to their teams on offense and only three on defense.
Alabama finished fourth in the West last season. I put zero stock in bowl games as indicators of what is to come, good or bad. At this juncture, I like Arkansas’ team better than Alabama’s. I like LSU’s team better than Alabama’s. I like their teams better than Auburn’s, too. That’s why I picked them 1-2. Alabama has to play Auburn at Jordan-Hare. So I picked Alabama to finish fourth in the West, the same place it finished last season with what looks to me to have been a stronger team.
A lot of people with far better track records of accurate predicting than mine believe Alabama is much more likely to be No. 4 in the nation than No. 4 in the SEC West. And they may very well be right. If they are, that’s just fine with me. Losing sleep over such things is for someone other than me.
Some have and others, no doubt, will explain to me that I’m looking at it all wrong. They’ll have very good reasons for saying that. And that’s fine, too.
In the end, what does it all mean? Not a dad-gummed thing. I won’t even guarantee that I won’t change my mind before I fill out my Media Days ballot in July.