Alabama No. 3

If he licks the stamp today (Monday) Nick Saban's thank you note should reach Rankman by Wednesday, a full three days before Alabama's opener against USC.

We would expect Saban to start by recanting what he says about the press every year at SEC Media Days in July. "...Even though I get sort of blasted sometimes for how I sort of view the press, that's not really the case. I really appreciate what you do, because you promote our game. You promote our student-athletes. You create a lot of interest for these young men, which I think inspires a lot of them to really want to play even at younger ages." [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

We anticipate Saban's letter would continue: "I really appreciate you, Rankman, only you, for doing your homework and not ranking us preseason No.1 like the boob USA Today coaches' and Associated Press writers. Thank you for looking at our depth chart, my history as preseason No.1, and the fact we are replacing our starting quarterback and Heisman winning tailback from last year's national title team. It's nice to know someone out there is actually paying attention."

At this point Rankman, content in having pleased college football's greatest coach, will curl up in his "Roll Tide" blanket and take a nap.

In fact, anointing Alabama No.1 was the laziest act anyone could perpetrate on an otherwise fine summer. No harder than switching off the light switch on the way to your summer home on the Cape.

Here's why Saban might not like it. The two times his Alabama teams have ranked No.1 in the AP reason poll, in 2010 and 2013, the Crimson Tide has finished No. 7 and No. 10.

Saban teams are actually better sneaking up from behind. None of the five national championships he has collected--one at LSU and four in Tuscaloosa--have come in seasons when Alabama was preseason No. 1 in the AP.

In fact, Saban's national title teams had an average preseason ranking of No. 5.

Bottom line: it's tough to repeat and the odds SHOULD be against Alabama doing it this year. That said, it was much tougher to do in the BCS era, when only the top two teams got to square off for the title.

The question remains: how many times can Alabama get away with plugging in a new starting quarterback?

Saban has to replace Jake Coker and his two top backs, Heisman winner Derek Henry and backup Kenyan Drake. As of Monday, Saban still hasn't named his starter for the USC opener, which is actually smart. He already won the tactical battle against USC's Clay Helton, who did announce his starter (Max Browne) in plenty of time for Alabama to prepare for a stationary target.

By the way, it's not a law that Alabama has to be ranked No. 1 just for showing up. The Crimson Tide has tough away dates this year at Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana State.

Couldn't the Tide lose one or two of those?

No, it's not a law Alabama has to be ranked No.1. It's just easier.

Rankman's countdown so far:No. 16 Boise State, No. 15 Washington,No. 14USC, No. 13UCLA, No. 12Stanford, No. 11 Oregon, No. 10 Ohio State, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 8 Tennessee, No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 6 Florida State, No. 5 LSU, No. 4 Michigan.[/membership]

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